Fulbright Partner and Former U.S. Attorney Michael Shelby Dies at Age 47
Michael T. Shelby
Mr. Shelby passed away Tuesday at age 47. He fought an extended battle with cancer. His favorite saying was “remember what’s important.”
“The partners and employees at Fulbright & Jaworski are deeply saddened by the loss of Michael Shelby,” said Steven B. Pfeiffer, chair of Fulbright’s Executive Committee. “Michael dedicated his life to public service and making sure the law was upheld. His honorable life and career is one to be emulated by others. We at Fulbright were honored to have worked alongside Michael – a man who inspired so many. Our heartfelt sympathy goes to the entire Shelby family.”
He spent most of his career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with the last three years as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, one of the largest and most prolific federal judicial districts in the nation. Mr. Shelby wanted to make sure his two young daughters were able to attend colleges they chose. As a result, he decided to leave behind public service and enter private practice.
Leon Jaworski had long been an inspiration to Mr. Shelby, who decided Fulbright was the place where he would take his comprehensive experience in white-collar crime and government investigations.
“Michael said he wanted to be a part of the firm Leon Jaworski helped build,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “Like Col. Jaworski, Michael had a passion for public service, was a trusted leader and took difficult stances in the courtroom.”
Mr. Shelby was born in Central Texas and raised in Houston. After attending Texas A&M University, he went onto law school at the University of Texas. He later became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves. He served in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm, and his active military duty also included service in Bosnia.
Mr. Shelby’s legal career began in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, where he spent five years in the Special Prosecutions Division. He joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1989 as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He specialized in the investigation and prosecution of cases involving public corruption, organized crime and environmental law.
Mr. Shelby prosecuted corrupt public officials after moving to Phoenix in 1997 and then returned to Houston in 2001 to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas.
As the U.S. Attorney, Mr. Shelby served on the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force. He tried more than 250 state and federal jury trials and argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit during his legal career.
In June 2005, Mr. Shelby became a partner at Fulbright, where he headed the firm’s nationwide white-collar criminal defense practice.
“Michael brought a combination of experience, trial skills and tremendous respect when he joined Fulbright,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “We’ll always remember the remarkable contributions he made throughout his career.”
When not serving and protecting others, Mr. Shelby basked in the time he had with his wife, two daughters, family and friends.
“When Michael wasn’t on a foreign battleground or in a courtroom, he was a family man who enjoyed life,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “He was known for his adventuresome spirit and fondness for skydiving, cars and space. He was a man of great courage. He fought a difficult battle against cancer.”