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Shelden Carter always aggressively defended his clients in the courtroom.

But he always made sure he didn't offend his opposing counsel or any court officer.

The respect his colleagues and his former opponents had for the man became clear Monday as his friends at the Utah County Public Defenders Office fielded calls from people expressing condolences after Carter died Sunday. He was 61.

The man who represented thousands of people during more than 30 years as an attorney died after a more than two-year battle with Stage 4 gall bladder cancer.

"He was passionate about practicing law," said Debbie Hill, assistant director of the Utah County Public Defender Association, who has known Carter for 13 years. "He was passionate about representing people and protecting their constitutional rights."

Carter started out as a public defender when there was only one other public defender in Utah County. The office has grown to a staff of 15, Hill said. He was in private practice for decades.

Carter was diagnosed with gall bladder cancer on Nov. 12, 2009, and went through years of semi-monthly chemotherapy.

He is survived by his ex-wife, Shelly Carter — who cared for him throughout his illness — his three sons, Shawn, Brandt and Brannon, and six grandchildren.

Funeral services will be Saturday at 11 a.m at the LDS Church at 3500 N. 1270 West in Pleasant Grove. A viewing will be held the night before at Warenski Funeral Home at 1776 N. 900 East in American Fork. His body will be interred at Provo Cemetery.

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