Judge slams former Assistant AG in case alleging harassment of gay student

Chris Armstrong (left), and Andrew Shirvell

Chris Armstrong (left), and Andrew Shirvell

DETROIT — Former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell was rebuked by a federal judge this week for attempting to circumvent procedures and find a shortcut way of wrapping up a lawsuit against him for allegedly harassing an openly gay college student.

Chris Armstrong (left), and Andrew Shirvell

“You’re basically at the beginning of the lawsuit trying to get to the end,” said U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow. “You’re wasting a lot of energy.”

Shirvell waged an online campaign against the University of Michigan’s openly gay former student body president, Christopher Armstrong. Last April, Armstrong, 21, filed a lawsuit against Shirvell, seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

Armstrong’s suit claimed Shirvell “developed a bizarre personal obsession” with him in early 2010 after claiming the student was a radical homosexual activist. The suit also says that Shirvell accused him of getting minors to drink alcohol and trying recruit others to become homosexuals.

Shirvell used his blog to continuously attack and harass Armstrong, calling him a “racist, elitist and liar,” and “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

Shirvell, who is representing himself, was appearing before Tarnow filing several motions to throw out the majority of a lawsuit filed against him by Armstrong. Shirvell claimed he was just exercising his First Amendment rights. In his counter-suit, he states that Armstrong pursued a “course of action” against him “to make an example out of (me) in order to deter others from criticizing (Armstrong’s) homosexual activist agenda.”

Shirvell maintains he’s the victim and that Armstrong is responsible for his recent professional troubles, including being fired by the state Attorney General’s Office in November 2010 for using his state computer to update the blog and then lying to investigators about it.

In court Wednesday, Shirvell argued that he made no effort to inflict intentional emotional harm on Armstrong and that none of his criticisms of the college student were over the line of acceptable criticism.

Tarnow dismissed the motions saying that a jury would decide on the merits of the suit and that after his review of its allegations, and that in his opinion there was more than enough to move it forward to a jury trail.

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“They are so many allegations that even if one of these are (true) you’ll be going to trial,” the judge told Shirvell, repeatedly denied motions to knock out parts of Armstrong’s suit.

Tarnow told Shirvell he had proven the adage that it’s “not wise” to represent oneself in court.

Outside court, Shirvell told the Detroit Free Press that “he plans to keep fighting and will file more motions to try to get the suit tossed before it gets to the jury trial phase.”

The Detroit Free Press also reported that “both sides have been fighting in court document filings over depositions and what questions each side must answer. Shirvell has asked Tarnow to compel Armstrong to answer questions about his sex life and religious beliefs.”

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