Michael Edward Mike Schmidt, from a 2013 Texas Lawyer video (Texas Lawyer)
Police are investigating why Dallas plaintiffs lawyer Michael Edward “Mike” Schmidt opened fire on them on Jan. 2, prompting officers to return fire that fatally wounded the attorney in his residence, according to an initial statement by the Dallas Police Department.
Schmidt’s father, attorney C.L. Michael Schmidt, was heading back to Dallas from Santa Fe, N.M., after learning of the shooting on Jan. 2, Texas Lawyer’s press time. He said he knows little about the incident or what may have caused it.
According to the police statement, Mike Schmidt approached an employee who works in the building where Schmidt lives in Dallas’ Uptown and reported that his residence was being burglarized. The employee then called police, and Schmidt moved to an adjacent hallway in the building and began barricading himself, according to the statement.
The employee informed officers that Schmidt was armed and directed them to his location. Schmidt shot at the officers when they tried to speak with him. The officers retreated, took cover and continued speaking with Schmidt to de-escalate the situation.
Schmidt fired intermittently at the officers from his barricaded position. When he moved from his position, officers returned fire and struck him. Schmidt was pronounced dead at the scene, and a weapon was recovered, according to the statement.
In February, Schmidt, a partner in Dallas’ The Schmidt Firm, won a $10.5 million verdict before a Dallas County jury on behalf of his client in a dram shop case. Schmidt had tried the case with his father, who owns the law firm but also lives and practices in Santa Fe.
“He did an incredible job. I’ve been a trial lawyer since 1965. I’ve tried hundreds of lawsuits, and he was as good as anybody I’ve seen in that trial,” the elder Schmidt said of the dram shop case, in which he picked the jury and his son handled the rest.
“We’ve had so many things going on—and all positive. That’s why this is such a shock,” he said. “Everything was going way up for us, and that verdict was a big part of it.”
Mike Schmidt appeared on Texas Lawyer’s Reversed and Remanded video blog on Feb. 26 and described the challenges of trying a dram shop case.
Randy Johnston, a Dallas legal-malpractice attorney, said Mike Schmidt was both a friend and client, “one of the finest young lawyers I’ve ever known.”
“He and his father were very close. He learned from his dad and took over for his dad as he was spending more time in New Mexico,” Johnston said. “He was a man who seemed to love life and his family. He had a good time, but at the same time he was highly principled. He’s one of those people who cared more about clients than making money. And because he cared so much about clients, he made a lot of money.”