Akin Digs In, Refuses to Quit »« Ukraine Board Declares Spongebob Squarepants Gay

Shirvell Ordered to Pay Millions to Armstrong

Remember Andrew Shirvell, the bigoted former assistant attorney general here in Michigan who was fired after using state computers in his harassment campaign of Chris Armstrong, the openly gay student body president at the University of Michigan? A federal jury just ordered him to pay $4.5 million in a lawsuit filed by Armstrong.

A former state assistant attorney general will have to pay $4.5 million in damages after a federal jury ruled his blog attacking a University of Michigan student body president for his “radical homosexual agenda” went too far.

Andrew Shirvell, a 2002 U-M alumnus drew national attention for his blog, which he published in 2010, attacking then-U-M student body president Chris Armstrong.

The blog – the “Chris Armstrong Watch” – was filled with posts made by Shirvell, including ones calling Armstrong, who was the first openly gay student body president at U-M, “Satan’s representative on the student assembly” and a “privileged pervert.”

The lawsuit alleged stalking, invasion of privacy and defamation. Most of what Shirvell said on his blog, while disgusting and vile, is protected speech. But he went further than just saying mean things. As the Detroit Free Press reported at the time he was fired by AG Mike Cox, himself a rather notorious anti-gay pol:

“To be clear, I refuse to fire anyone for exercising their First Amendment rights, regardless of how popular or unpopular their positions might be. However, Shirvell repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior, and inappropriately used state resources, our investigation showed.”

Among the examples cited by Cox in the statement:

• Showed up at the home of a private citizen three times, including once at 1:30 a.m. That incident is especially telling because it clearly was about harassing Armstrong, not engaging in free speech.

• Further engaged in behavior that, while not perhaps sufficient to charge criminal stalking, was harassing, uninvited and showed a pattern that was in the everyday sense, stalking.

• Harassing Armstrong’s friends as they were socializing in Ann Arbor;

• Numerous calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Armstrong’s employer, in an attempt to slander Armstrong – and ultimately attempting to cause Pelosi to fire Armstrong;

• Attempting to “out” Armstrong’s friends as homosexual – several of whom were not gay.

I’m sure he’ll appeal. Did I mentioned that Shirvell graduated from Ave Maria Law School? Amusingly, he was actually offered a settlement before the case went to trial. If he would have just apologized, the case would have been dropped. He refused. He also represented himself and did such a bad job of it that he was reprimanded by the judge for filing too many frivolous motions. Watch out, Larry Klayman; you’ve got competition.

Comments

  1. Michael Heath says

    AG Cox’s findings and one motivation for firing Shrivvell:

    Numerous calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Armstrong’s employer, in an attempt to slander Armstrong – and ultimately attempting to cause Pelosi to fire Armstrong

    I didn’t know this. I’m also unclear on how Armstrong worked for Pelosi’s office given he was at U.M. and the motivation she’d fire Armstrong for being slandered. Googling this blockquoted phrase only brings back three results, none of which were AG Cox’s report and none of which elaborated beyond what Ed reports here.

    I’m also surprised by the demonstrated, if fake, empathy by AG Cox using this reason as a motivating factor.

  2. eric says

    He also represented himself and did such a bad job of it that he was reprimanded by the judge for filing too many frivolous motions.

    And he was an assistant AG, meaning he probably directly observed what happens to most defendents when they choose to represent themselves.

    It goes to show that some beliefs are so emotionally strong, they can just shut off the thinking centers of the brain when threatened. This guy had both the education and experience to tell him self-representation was a bad idea. He was just incapable of accessing/using that training in this case. He didn’t make a bad judgement; he was incapable of making any sort of intellectual judgement at all, judgement having been completely overridden by feeling.

  3. says

    There’s some old chestnut about lawyers representing themselves having fools for clients… I bet every lawyer hears that one, at some point. It’s true. In this case it’s extraspecialicious trueitty-true!

  4. TGAP Dad says

    He refused to apologize to spare his what, pride? Isn’t that one of the seven deadly sins? Didn’t they cover that at Ave Maria? I’d be interested to see if the judge or the appeals court (if he decides to appeal, and if so, I HOPE he represents himself again!) reduces the award. It seems as if every case which gains notoriety for a large award – like the Stella Liebeck/McDonalds coffee and the Pinto fireball cases, has its award drastically reduced in the subsequent legal machinations.

  5. wordsmatter says

    I’ve got twenty bucks that says Shirvell is a closeted gay and saturated in self-loathing.

  6. Jordan Genso says

    Michael Heath:

    I’m also unclear on how Armstrong worked for Pelosi’s office given he was at U.M. and the motivation she’d fire Armstrong for being slandered. Googling this blockquoted phrase only brings back three results, none of which were AG Cox’s report and none of which elaborated beyond what Ed reports here.

    I know Chris personally, although I did not know him during the time that this incident was occurring. But based on how I know him now, which is through campaigning for Democratic candidates, I would assume that Chris may have been doing a summer internship with the House Democrats, or something along those lines.

    I’m really hoping that Chris gets the money after the appeal. He could not be a nicer person, nor more deserving, as he works so diligent in fighting for good causes. Having a nice nest egg will provide him more opportunity to continue his work without having to worry about financial compensation.

  7. otrame says

    It is mere speculation, and a speculation I don’t like to make unless there is actual evidence, but I think it possible that this really is a case of a man who discovered that, yes, he can be attracted to his own gender–and panicked. There is a frantic, very nearly frenzied quality to Shirvell’s behavior.

    I would not be surprised if he really does think Armstrong is a direct agent of Satan, personally attacking Shirvell. It would be the only explanation he could come up with to account for the fact that that closet door he welded shut all those years ago and hid behind wallpaper and a huge book case has somehow managed to open, just a tiny crack.

    That said, if I were Chris Armstrong, that guy would make me very nervous. Shirvell has acted like a man desperately defending himself against a personal attack. Such situations can be dangerous.

  8. pwillow1 says

    @otrame: Yes, my thoughts exactly. I followed the story and every time Shirvell appeared on camera, it was as though he were begging Chris Armstrong to notice him.

    The old chestnut about there being a “thin line between love and hate” never was better illustrated as it was when I watched the antics of Shirvell going after Armstrong. Shirvell wasn’t just espousing anti-gay ideology; there was a such a personal component to his attacks that I couldn’t help but think that Shirvell was in the grip of a personal fixation (read “attraction”) to the object of his attentions.

  9. says

    Another thing that pushed it into big damages territory is when Shirvell said Armstrong was plying underclassmen with alcohol to induct them into the homosexual lifestyle: i.e. calling him a serial rapist;

  10. d cwilson says

    The one time I saw Shirvell on the Daily Show, he did appear to conform to every stereotype of a self-hating closet case. Whether he is or isn’t, I don’t know, but he does have a very strangely personal fixation on Armstrong. It goes beyond what you would expect from a fundjelical who was outraged that his alma mater elected an openly gay student body president.

    I wonder if there is something more to this story than we are hearing in the media. It’s very bizarre case.

    Sadly, it’s highly doubtful that Armstrong will ever see a dime from the judgment. As a former state employee, it’s doubtful Shirvell has any where near that amount in assets and he’ll probably declare bankruptcy the moment his final appeal is denied. Even with this judgment, Shirvell probably has a bright future ahead working for the FRC or the ironically named American Center for Law and Justice.

  11. says

    Sadly, it’s highly doubtful that Armstrong will ever see a dime from the judgment … he’ll probably declare bankruptcy the moment his final appeal is denied.

    Not necessarily. Debts for willful and malicious injury cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Off the top of my head, defamation and stalking probably qualify as willful and malicious. Collecting can still be tough but if Shirvell gets a job, Armstrong can have his wages garnisheed for (depending on the jurisdiction) up to 20% or so. It’d take a long time to get to $4.5 million (plus the post-verdict interest) but it could make a nice supplement to Armstrong’s income and give the satisfaction of driving Shirvell nuts.

  12. M Groesbeck says

    otrame @ 9 —

    I think it possible that this really is a case of a man who discovered that, yes, he can be attracted to his own gender–and panicked.

    Nope. The Gay Illuminati has preemptively voted him off the island. He’s a duly-certified heterosexual.

  13. valhar2000 says

    It’d take a long time to get to $4.5 million (plus the post-verdict interest) but it could make a nice supplement to Armstrong’s income and give the satisfaction of driving Shirvell nuts.

    Armstrong had better watch his back. Shirvell might decide to go down fighting.

  14. says

    Armstrong had better watch his back. Shirvell might decide to go down fighting.

    There is that! … but he’s already been tempting that fate for over a year by pursuing this lawsuit.

Leave a Reply