Michael T. Shelby

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Michael Taylor "Mike" Shelby (November 5, 1958 – July 18, 2006) was a prominent Houston lawyer who served as the United States attorney for the Southern District of Texas from 2002–2005. He was appointed U.S. attorney by President George W. Bush, on the recommendation of Republican U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Shelby resigned as U.S. attorney in 2005 for personal financial reasons and became a full partner in the Houston firm of Fulbright & Jaworski, named in part for the late Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski. He headed the firm's white-collar defense practice. Thereafter, he was stricken with cancer, which had reached into his spine. According to the Harris County coroner, an autopsy revealed that Shelby ended his life by firing a handgun to his chest.

Early years, education, family[edit]

Shelby was born in Luling in Caldwell County near San Marcos to Dr. David Martin Shelby (1914–1996), who resided in Gonzales at the time of his death, and the former Marilyn Seay. Shelby grew up in Houston.

He attended Texas A&M University in College Station on a debate scholarship and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1981. He attended the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, where he was the chairman of the Board of Advocates. He was active in Moot Court and, as of 2006, was the only student to have twice won the prestigious Hildebrand Moot Court competition.

In law school, he met and married the former Diana Jane Van Hooser. The couple made their home in Houston, where their two daughters, Elizabeth Jane Shelby and Sarah Seay Shelby, were born.

Meteoric legal career[edit]

Shelby worked for five years as an assistant district attorney in Harris County. He served primarily in the Special Prosecutions Division. In 1989, he joined the U.S. attorney's office in Houston as an assistant U.S. attorney, with specialization in the investigation and prosecution of cases involving public corruption, organized crime, and environmental law.

In 1997, the Shelbys moved to Phoenix, where he continued his work as an assistant U.S. attorney, with specialization in the prosecution of corrupt public officials and international narcotics trafficking. The Shelbys returned to Houston in 2002, when he became full U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas.

Shelby received many commendations for his work from the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Customs Service, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He received personal letters of commendation from former Attorney General Janet Reno and former FBI directors Louis Freeh and William Sessions.

Shelby was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve and held the rank of commander. He was a decorated veteran with active-duty service in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm and later in Bosnia.

A political campaign too[edit]

In March 1992, Shelby entered the Republican primary for the District 134 seat in the Texas House of Representatives. In a three-man field, he ran second to Kyle Janek, with Tim Turner finishing in a strong third place. Janek led with 2,242 (34.8 percent) to Shelby's 2,172 (33.7 percent) and Turner's 2,032 (31.5 percent). In the GOP runoff the following month, which had a low turnout of voters, Janek was a narrow winner over Shelby, 1,756 (51.2 percent) to 1,675 (48.8 percent). Janek lost the seat in the general election but won it in 1994 and was then elected to the Texas State Senate in 2002.

Election history[edit]

Most recent election[edit]


Republican primary runoff, 1992: House District 134[1]
Candidate Votes % ±
Kyle Janek 1,756 51.18
Mike Shelby 1,675 48.82
Turnout 3,431
Republican primary, 1992: House District 134[2]
Candidate Votes % ±
Kyle Janek 2,242 34.78
Mike Shelby 2,172 33.70
Tim Turner 2,032 31.52
Turnout 6,446


  1. ^ "1992 Republican Party Primary Runoff Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-24. 
  2. ^ "1992 Republican Party Primary Election". Office of the Secretary of State (Texas). Retrieved 2006-12-24.