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!

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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Assistant AG Has Vendetta Against College Student

Sometimes, we get to report inspirational stories about ordinary people who rise up to fight against seemingly insurmountable opposition and succeed.

This is not one of those stories.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite: what happens when a person who rises to a prestigious position become obsessed with someone far below them that it exposes what a sad and pathetic person they are. Like when an assistant attorney general makes it his duty to take down a college student body president.

As The Detroit News reported today, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox rebuked assistant AG Andrew Shirvell for statements made on his blog against University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong. (Long story short: Shirvell doesn’t like Armstrong because he’s gay.)

“All state employees have a right to free speech outside working hours,” Cox said in a statement issued Wednesday. “But (Andrew) Shirvell’s immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”

The name of Shirvell’s blog? Chris Armstrong Watch. Yes, an assistant attorney general, one of the state’s top prosecutors, has started a blog solely for the purpose of attacking a college student. A grown man, going after a college student. No one says he doesn’t have the right to do it, but that makes it no less sad and pathetic.

Sample posting:

BOMBSHELL: Ann Arbor Police Raid Chris Armstrong’s Out-of-Control ‘Gay Rush’ Welcome Week Party

Summary: A house full of college students had a party that went late (after 1 am) and the police were called because it was late, loud and the students were hanging outside in the yards. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE ON A COLLEGE CAMPUS! EVER!

I wonder how the police were tipped off to this mayhem. Could have been the same guy who was aghast that the party was even planned to begin with:

OUTRAGE ALERT: Armstrong Invites U of M Freshmen to Join the Homosexual Lifestyle

And probably the same guy who just so happened to be present to take a video of the police arrival? You know, the guy whose YouTube handle is “AntiArmstrong.” (Just one video posted. Ever.) I don’t know whose page that is but I’d bet money his initials are “A.S.”

Shirvell was disappointed to report in the post that “it’s not clear whether the police issued any minor in possession (MIP) citations…” Because the police often go to parties with rampant mayhem and don’t even issue MIP citations.

He actually resorts to Facebook-stalking Armstrong and his friends comments, posting screenshots of each. (What’s interesting is that, for most Facebook pages, you cannot see a person’s postings without friending them. Yet Shirvell has screenshots of Armstrong’s and several of his friends’ pages as evidence. Could it be that Shirvell has resorted to making a fake Facebook page in order to spy on college students? I sure hope not.)

And it’s rampant Facebook-stalking. One thing is certain: that he knows way too much about the goings on of Armstrong and his friends. Such as:

Fresh off a three-week European vacation, MSA Business Representative Serwer, pictured above with police, was asked to produce identification, which he eventually complied with only after he went back inside the house to find it.

OMG! Serwer DIDN’T HAVE HIS ID ON HIM! Someone ready the electric chair. He also knows that Armstrong attended last weekend’s Lady Gaga concert.

He outs as homosexuals other people with whom Armstrong is associated, armed with photographic evidence of a hug between the two which, “in a light more favorable to the nonmoving party” appears to be a joke of sorts.

He even trashes the parenting of  the mother of one of Armstrong’s friends for *gasp* taking her of-age son to Soaring Eagle Casino! He also discovered a fact that certainly must result in the mother’s parental rights being terminated: she makes a joke about her son having a fake ID!

The situation should put Cox into a tizzy. While he’s issued a “rebuke,” the AG’s office has said it will not comment further. This is pretty sad for an office that lauds its fight against cyberbullying. From the AG’s offices own document, titled “A Parent’s Guide to Cyberbullying”:

A cyberbully is someone who uses technology to harass, embarrass, intimidate, or stalk someone else.

The methods a cyberbully could use to harass the victim include the following:

• posting of secrets or embarrassing information, including pictures, for everyone to see

• posting of gossip or rumors for the explicit purpose of damaging the person’s reputation

• distribution of messages pretending to be the victim in an attempt to damage that person’s friendships

• alienation of the victim from online groups.

And I’d say this is a pretty textbook example.