Appeals court rules against ex-Michigan state attorney in anti-gay defamation suit

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of gay college student Chris Armstrong that Shirvell posted on his blog in 2010. Staff and Wire Reports

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A federal appeals court says a fired lawyer for the state of Michigan should not be granted a new trial in a defamation suit filed by a gay former University of Michigan student government president.

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of gay college student Chris Armstrong that Shirvell posted on his blog in 2010.

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of gay college student Chris Armstrong that Shirvell posted on his blog in 2010.

The decision released Monday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati also reduced the jury’s award to Chris Armstrong by $1 million to $3.5 million.

Andrew Shirvell was fired as assistant attorney general in 2010 for an anti-gay campaign against Armstrong, who accused him of stalking and defaming him on an anti-gay blog and elsewhere.

For nearly six months, Shirvell waged an online campaign against the then-20-year-old 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,” a Nazi, a “privileged pervert,” and “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

Shirvell was fired after it was determined that he used state resources and hours to conduct his campaign against Armstrong.

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In 2012, a jury ordered Shirvell to pay Armstrong $4.5 million for defamation.

Shirvell directed questions for comment Monday to the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based nonprofit legal support group. The Associated Press left a message with the group.

Earlier this month, a Michigan appeals court ruled Shirvell was not entitled to collect unemployment benefits, rejecting claims that his off-hours activities were protected by the First Amendment.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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