Blog Wars

Michigan AAG Andrew Shirvell

Today brings some updates in the ongoing saga of Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who writes Chris Armstrong Watch, a blog devoted to attacking the openly gay student body president of the University of Michigan. We’ve covered the story extensively (see here and here).

First, Shirvell’s blog is now “open to invited readers only” — i.e., it’s password-protected.

Second, Chris Armstrong is seeking a restraining order against Shirvell (who has shown up at events attended by Armstrong and also at Armstrong’s home). Judge Nancy Francis declined to issue an immediate restraining order but scheduled a hearing for next week. (Shirvell has already been banned from the Michigan campus, despite his status as a UM alumnus.)

Third, and most notably, Shirvell has taken a personal leave from the Michigan AG’s office. This announcement was made today by a spokesperson for Attorney General Mike Cox — who also mentioned that Shirvell will be the subject of a disciplinary hearing when he returns to work.

The news that Shirvell is out of the Michigan AG’s office, at least temporarily, will be welcome to many. But some observers, including our own Elie Mystal, have called for more: namely, Shirvell’s firing.

Let’s pause and consider: Would it be that easy to fire Andrew Shirvell? As a former government lawyer who once blogged about judges while appearing before them as a prosecutor, I have some thoughts on this….

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And: Should AG Mike Cox Fire Shirvell?

Earlier this week, Conor Friedersdorf, writing for The Atlantic, poured a big bottle of haterade all over the legal profession. More specifically, he criticized the way “Ivy League” lawyers are recruited, and the “palpable sense of entitlement” they exhibit even when they don’t take Biglaw bucks and instead work for the government. Here’s the set up:

The details of how elite law and business consulting firms recruit astonish me every time I hear them. Even getting an interview often requires attending an Ivy League professional school or a very few top tier equivalents. Folks who succeed in that round are invited to spend a summer working at the firm, the most sane aspect of the process.

But subsequently, they participate in sell events where they’re plied with food and alcohol in the most lavish settings imaginable: five star resort hotels, fine cigar bars, the priciest restaurants.

And here’s the money shot, one that is careening around the legal blogosphere like Billy Joel trying to get back from the Hamptons before the hurricane hits:

Though it isn’t defensible, it is unsurprising that a lot of people who eschew offers to work at these firms, favoring public sector work instead, imagine that they are making an enormous personal sacrifice by taking government work. The palpable sense of entitlement some of these public sector folks exude is owed partly to how few of “our best and brightest” do eschew the big firm route (due partly to increasing debt levels among today’s graduates, no doubt).

Really? You want to do this now? You want to talk smack about the people on the bottom rung of this totem pole, while willfully ignoring the clients, partners, law schools, and state governments that generate huge sums of wealth off the backs of the palpably entitled?

Fine. Let me take off my glasses, and we’ll step outside…

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Gawker posed a very inflammatory question yesterday: How Did the Owner of a Barely-Legal Teen Gossip Blog Get Into a Prestigious Law School?

The law school in question is USC Gould School of Law, currently ranked #18. Gawker commenters wondered whether this was a misuse of the term “prestigious.”

The gossip blog owner in question is Christopher Stone, 31, who runs Sticky Drama and Sticky Noodz, dedicated to teenage gossip and teens’ nude photos, respectively. It’s a successful blog business model, as you can well imagine. The Sticky Drama site is currently down, but you can check out its tumblr. We sacrificed a few IQ points by looking it over: It’s a mish-mash of cute boys, half-naked girls, and screenshots of Facebook conversations about rape. The site most recently gained notoriety for launching 11-year-old Jessi Slaughter into the public eye, resulting in a cyberbullying frenzy.

Gawker describes it like this:

StickyDrama and its sister porn site, Sticky-n00dz, are two of the worst sites on the Internet, built on exploiting teens and tweens’ insecurities and then publicly humiliating them. Stickydrama is a crowd-sourced gossip blog that chronicles the lives of “E-celebs.” Sticky-n00dz is similar, but focused on nude pictures. E-celebs are kind of like regular, “In Real Life” celebrities, except their fame exists solely on social-networking sites like Myspace, Twitter, and the live webcam community Stickam.com, from which StickyDrama gets its name.

When Gawker is saying you’re a cesspool….

After seeing Stone tweet about law school — “lol @ all the Efagz pissed that I got into law school–ALL that I applied to. And my entire application was based on StickyDrama. So, nyah!” — Adrian Chen at Gawker asked his Twitter followers where Stone was going. Chen then wrote:

Attention, USC law! This man spends his free time harassing teenagers and videotaping live rapes… Admissions officers at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law just admitted him to their 18th-ranked program earlier this week.

We reached out to USC. They say Gawker got it wrong…

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