Jury: Shirvell must pay $4.5 million for defamation

Former University of Michigan student government president Chris Armstrong prevailed Aug. 16 in his federal defamation suit against former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell, as the jury awarded Armstrong $4.5 million in damages.

Armstrong, who was represented by Bloomfield Hills civil attorney Deborah Gordon, claimed Shirvell inflicted intentional emotional harm on his blog in 2010, while Armstrong was in his senior year.

Shirvell attacked Armstrong for his “radical homosexual agenda,” calling Armstrong “Satan’s representative on the student assembly” and a “privileged pervert.” He also accused Armstrong of getting minors to drink alcohol and trying to recruit others to become homosexuals. [For a complete rundown of Shirvell’s acts, click here.]

The day before the verdict was reached, the Detroit Free Press reported that “Shirvell questioned himself on the witness stand for more than an hour Wednesday [Aug. 15], trying to convince the jury he was upset by Armstrong’s push for gender-neutral housing at U-M. Shirvell graduated in 2002.

“‘My blog was political speech,’ Shirvell testified. ‘I viewed my blog as a movement to get Mr. Armstrong to resign. I personally felt Mr. Armstrong was too radical for the position.’”

Gordon told The Michigan Daily that she doubts Shirvell’s plans to appeal the verdict will be realized.

“He’s not going to win his appeal. It’s just another waste of time just like this trial was. This should never have occurred, because he just should have retracted these statements a long time” ago, she said.

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Former assistant AG Shirvell sues for defamation

Irony

a. a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.

b. (especially in contemporary writing) a manner of organizing a work so as to give full expression to contradictory or complementary impulses, attitudes,etc., especially as a means of indicating detachment from a subject, theme, or emotion.

Dictionary.com

Former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell, whom you may remember as the guy who allegedly stalked, harassed and defamed a college student for being gay, has sued the college student and his attorney, Deborah Gordon, for running a smear campaign against him.

“As my complaint makes clear, I have uncovered a significant amount of information during the past year that shows that Deborah Gordon has deliberately set out to destroy me by any means necessary,” Shirvell said in a news release.

[Freep.com]

“(Armstrong and Gordon) are using me as a way to further their political agenda and their monetary agenda in the media at my expense,” Shirvell said in an interview yesterday. “So I want some justice, and I want Ms. Gordon to pay me damages for everything she has done to me.”

[The Michigan Daily]

“The one thing that they can’t take away from me is my dignity,” Shirvell said. “I didn’t commit wrong here. The wrongdoers here are Deborah Gordon and Chris Armstrong, and their impact on my life in the past year has been substantial.”

[Id]

Shirvell, of course, is the person who ran a blog called “Chris Armstrong Watch,” on which he published poorly photoshopped images of the blog’s eponymous college student with swastikas on his face. After initially defending Shirvell, then AG Mike Cox eventually fired him. Shirvell didn’t sue Cox for wrongful discharge, avoiding a shameful display of right-on-right crime. According to the Daily story, Shirvell was fired for lying during a disciplinary conference and for using the tools of his position for “non-work-related purposes.”

Shirvell said Gordon gave an investigator information about his previous harassment of a Michigan State student.2  Gordon denies ever talking to the investigator about Shirvell.

“(Shirvell) is by far his own worst enemy,” Gordon said. “He has created nothing but problems for himself. He lied about Chris Armstrong, and he apparently lied to the attorney general, and he lost his job. Now, the Attorney Grievance Commission is considering taking his law license away, and none of that is his fault, according to him.”

[Daily again]

1 Shirvell released an awful lot of information about the criminal records of Armstrong and his associates, information he wouldn’t have had except for his position with the AG’s office. I don’t know if that’s what was referred to, but it seems highly likely.

2 You mean there was another one? If it’s your dignity you’re concerned about, you should probably quit while you’re ahead, Shirvie!

Lifetime U-M bans to be lifted for some

Been banned from the University of Michigan’s campus? Good news, you soon may be able to go  back and get banned all over again:

U-M has revised its policy that allowed U-M police officers the discretion to ban people from campus for life. Under the new policy, which takes effect next month, those bans will only last for a year. After the year, the university’s police chief will have the ability to either let the ban lapse or extend for another year.

Because of the change, U-M police are in the process of reviewing the 1,800 adults and 200 juveniles currently on the list. Interim Police Chief Joe Piersante said he expects about 900 people to be notified by the end of the summer that they have been dropped from the list.

The changes were made in the wake of two high profile cases involving the university. One involving former assistant AG Andrew Shirvell, whose sordid story you can relive here, here, here, here, and here, and the other involving a former member of its pediatrics/cardiology department.

Andrew Shirvell fired from AG’s office.

Our national state nightmare is over. OK, so that overstates it a little (or a lot). From the AP:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A lawyer for an assistant state attorney general accused of harassing the gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan has been fired.

Philip Thomas says Andrew Shirvell was fired Monday.

Shirvell was at a disciplinary hearing Monday at the Michigan attorney general’s office related to the issue.

The attorney general’s office is declining immediate comment.

Shirvell went on a leave about a month ago after national criticism erupted over a blog he wrote characterizing student leader Chris Armstrong as a "racist" and "liar" who promoted a "radical homosexual agenda."

Thomas has said Shirvell’s actions were constitutionally protected as free speech.

No idea what we’re talking about? Here’s our original post, then the time he showed up on Anderson Cooper, when Mike Cox said he wouldn’t be fired, and when he inexplicably showed up on “The Daily Show” thinking it was a serious interview.

Shirvell hits the big time: “The Daily Show”

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, currently on a leave of absence, took time to visit with the good folks over at “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central.

And a good time was had by all.

Shirvell had yet another platform to spew his nasty rhetoric, while “The Daily Show” did what it does best, made Shirvell a parody of himself, and getting laughs in the process.

One does not get the sense that Shirvell is aware of the joke, but make your own decisions. See the video on Comedy Central.

Asst. AG (Anti-Gay) III: Cox explains decision to keep Shirvell

[In case you missed them: Part I/Part II]

The saga of Andrew Shirvell and his vendetta against a college student continues, as his boss, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to explain his decision not to fire Shirvell. [Video of the interview at the link]

While Cox didn’t exactly defend Shirvell, calling him a bully, he said Shirvell has the right to publish the things he did under the First Amendment.

Democratic candidate for AG David Leyton has called for his Republican counterpart, Bill Schuette, to join him in calling for Shirvell to be fired.

UPDATE: From the Detroit News, Cox has now suspended Shirvell.

Attorney General Mike Cox changed his stance Thursday, suspending Andrew Shirvell after the assistant attorney general attracted national attention for a controversial blog that ridicules and denounces a University of Michigan student leader for his gay advocacy, religious beliefs and character.

The suspension came a day after Cox told CNN he didn’t intend to fire Shirvell, citing civil service rules that protect government employees from being "fired willy-nilly" for exercising their rights of free speech.

UPDATE II: From the Michigan Daily, the AG’s office says Shirvell took a leave of absence on his own accord.

Asst. AG With Vendetta Against College Student Speaks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper

A couple weeks ago, I posted about Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, proprietor of the previously profiled “Chris Armstrong Watch,” through which he obsesses over a college student.

He was a guest on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to explain his crusade. Against a college student.

I think Cooper sums up the problem with his opening question:

You’re a state official. This is a college student. What are you doing here?

Shirvell said he’s got nothing personal against him. He said he’s doing it as a private citizen off of work time. Then he should explain how he knows so much about the “criminal” records of Chris Anderson and friends.

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