AGs behaving badly

Imagine having an assistant state attorney general harassing you, even including following you around and showing up where you live.

That’s what happened to the University of Michigan’s first openly gay student body president.

Late this week, a federal court jury in Detroit awarded $4.5 million to Chris Armstrong, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and the campus’ first openly gay student body president, who was harassed and stalked by the former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell in early 2010.

Shirvell was found guilty of defamation, stalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy on Thursday. After Armstrong was elected student body president, Shirvell took to his personal blog called “The Chris Armstrong Watch” to write defamatory comments about the student, whom he accused of being a “radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist, and liar,” and wrote about the student holding orgies and having sex in children’s playgrounds and other public places.

Oh, one of those blogs so focused on you that they have your name on them. And along with having your name on them, they accuse you of every crime and bad quality and awkward flaw and physical inadequacy the blogger can think of. Somehow you never expect blogs like that to be written by an assistant state AG. Or the president, or the Secretary of State, or the pope.

So how extremely peculiar. And…nasty.

Shirvell didn’t stop at blog posts though. He eventually began following the student on campus and showing up at his house. The lawyer was temporarily banned from the University of Michigan campus at that time.

In a 2010 CNN interview, Shirvell tried to defend his actions saying, “I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights.”

Good god – he’s an officer of the law and he thinks he has a First Amendment to libel and stalk people?

The lawyer was fired from the attorney general’s office in 2010 for misusing his work day hours (which were paid for by state funds), as well as violating office polices and engaging in “borderline stalking behavior.”

Well, no doubt he can have a productive career harassing people on Twitter.


  1. says

    Good for the jury. At least there may be a little justice into the Repugs succeed in getting their ideologues on every bench. Shirvell must be a nutcase to go that crazy over just one person.

  2. Howard says

    But Ophelia, Christians have the right – nay, the DUTY – to make life for gay people as difficult as possible. For you to trample on the rights of Christians so – truly, you’re worse than Hitler!

    Ugh. People like Shirwell make me sick.

  3. 'Tis Himself says

    Quote of the Day: Andrew Shirvell Is Now Just Another Poor, Unemployed Law Grad

    [T]here’s no way I could possibly ever pay such a judgment.

    – Andrew Shirvell, commenting on the $4.5M jury verdict awarded to Chris Armstrong in his stalking and defamation case against the former Michigan assistant attorney general.

    (Shirvell has been unemployed since being fired from the state attorney general’s office over his anti-gay online campaign against Armstrong, and he plans to appeal the judgment.)

  4. Francesca says

    As Armstrong’s attorney pointed out, the fact that Shirvell can’t pay is irrelevant-they expected it. What matters is a sentence that comes down on him like a ton of bricks. They may end up reducing the award on appeal, but I can’t imagine any jury or judge that would condone stalking and slandering *from an officer of the law* as part of 1st amendment rights. Maybe I just don’t have enough imagination.

  5. says

    The accusing him of being a serial rapist is what pushed it into mega-damages territory. The award may come down, but it will still be quite substantial.

  6. says

    Poor Mr Shirvell. Now he can no longer spend hours posting steamy sex romp fantasies about Mr Armstrong to his special blog, or following him around campus, or hiding in the bushes outside his house, watching him with a pair of binoculars.

  7. otrame says

    Mr. Shirvell seems, from his behavior, to have some serious issues. I refuse to believe that no one ever took him aside and said, in effect, “Dude, you are going to ruin your career if you don’t stop this.” Probably several some ones. Yet he couldn’t stop. It appears to be a genuine obsession. If I were his victim that man would make me very, very nervous.

  8. Chakolate says

    Shirvell is displaying all the characteristics of a gay homophobe – completely obsessed with a gay man, horrified and disgusted… or perhaps titillated.

  9. Jeremy Shaffer says

    In a 2010 CNN interview, Shirvell tried to defend his actions saying, “I’m a Christian citizen exercising my First Amendment rights.”

    Harrassment and defamation may be a First Amendment right in the nation of Christia but not in America.

  10. embertine says

    I generally don’t buy into the idea that all homophobes are repressed homosexuals. In this case, however…

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