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Judge tosses out lawsuit against former University of Michigan student president

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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DETROIT — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought against the former University of Michigan student council president Chris Armstrong, the latest setback for Andrew Shirvell, the former Michigan assistant attorney general who was fired .

In addition, U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow ruled that Armstrong’s suit against Shirvell will continue.

Andrew Shirvell

In his lawsuit, Shirvell claimed Armstrong had “bullied him and defamed him” by filing a lawsuit against him, and subsequently blamed Armstrong for being fired from his job.

For nearly six months in 2010, Shirvell waged an online campaign against Armstrong, the university’s first openly gay student president.

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

Shirvell was fired in November 2010 after former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox determined that Shirvell used state resources and hours to conduct his campaign against Armstrong.

In a statement emailed Tuesday to the Detroit Free Press, Shirvell claimed he believes the things he said about Armstrong were true and thus protected speech.

“At trial, I will provide overwhelming evidence that Armstrong was a public official/public figure at the time that the statements at issue were made,” Sirvell’s email said. “We live in the United States. If I believe that Chris Armstrong is a radical homosexual activist, I have a constitutional right to express that opinion.”

Shirvell also has filed suit against Armstrong’s attorney Deborah Gordon, claiming she was was responsible for his being fired, and that she defamed him. Tarnow dismissed that claim but has not ruled on the defamation claim.

Scheduling for a jury trial in Armstrong’s suit against Shirvell is expected to take place this week.

Shirvell’s termination was recently upheld by the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which ruled his conduct was “unbecoming a state employee.”

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