State AGs

Debra Milke

We will be appealing this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Court takes the appeal, I will argue it personally as I have done in two previous cases over the past five months. In my last case, the Supreme Court accepted my argument and overruled the Ninth Circuit’s decision unanimously.

– Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, commenting on the Ninth Circuit’s grant of federal habeas relief to Debra Milke, who has been on Arizona’s death row for 22 years.

(Why is Milke sometimes called the “Arizona sister” of Casey Anthony? Keep reading….)

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Andrew Shirvell (far right) and Chris Armstrong

Here’s a quick update on a past Lawsuit of the Day. Last month, Chris Armstrong, the openly gay ex-president of the University of Michigan student body, sued Andrew Shirvell, the former Michigan assistant attorney general and outspoken opponent of homosexuality. As you may recall, Shirvell criticized Armstrong in a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch, making allegations that according to Armstrong were false, and Shirvell also followed Armstrong around Ann Arbor. So Armstrong sued Shirvell for stalking, invasion of privacy, and defamation (among other claims).

Now Andrew Shirvell is firing back. Last week, Shirvell, proceeding pro se [FN1], moved to dismiss Chris Armstrong’s lawsuit.

Not surprisingly, Shirvell claimed in his motion to be a victim: “Plaintiff’s course of conduct was politically motivated and intended to make an example out of Defendant in order to deter others from criticizing Plaintiff’s homosexual activist agenda.” More specifically, Shirvell argued that certain counts of the Armstrong complaint fail to state claims upon which relief can be granted, that Shirvell’s criticism of Armstrong was protected by the First Amendment, and that Shirvell never had direct contact with Armstrong (e.g., by email or by phone).

In addition, Shirvell lodged some counterclaims against Armstrong. What is the basis for Shirvell suing Armstrong?

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Former Michigan prosecutor Andrew Shirvell might be gone from the Michigan attorney general’s office, but he has not been forgotten. Shirvell, an outspoken opponent of homosexuality, has just been hit with a lawsuit — by Chris Armstrong, the ex-president of the University of Michigan student body.

Armstrong is suing Shirvell in Michigan state court for stalking, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and abuse of process. His lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages and injunctive relief (to enjoin Shirvell from, well, being such a creep).

As you may recall, Shirvell seemed obsessed with the young, beauteous, and openly gay Armstrong, devoting an entire blog to criticism of Armstrong and following Armstrong around, day and night. As explained by Armstrong’s lawyer, Deborah Gordon, Shirvell demonstrated a “bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong, reflected in numerous blog and Facebook postings in which Shirvell asserted that Armstrong was advancing a “radical homosexual agenda.” [FN1]

Let’s take a closer look at the complaint….

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Andrew Shirvell, now a FORMER Michigan AAG.

We mentioned this briefly last night in an update appended to Non-Sequiturs, but it’s big enough news that it merits more coverage. Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell — whom we’ve covered extensively, for his blogging campaign against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay (and ridiculously handsome) student body president at the University of Michigan — has been fired by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

(A commenter had this punny response to the news: “Gosh. Is that the last time Andrew Shirvell will run into trouble with Cox?”)

I previously wondered whether Shirvell deserved to be fired. As AG Cox noted in explaining why he didn’t fire Shirvell immediately, government lawyers have free speech rights too.

Most of you weren’t as concerned. In an Above the Law reader poll last month, over 80 percent of respondents said that Cox should fire Shirvell.

And so he has. According to the Michigan AG’s office, Shirvell went well beyond the bounds of permissible free speech….

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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?

Andrew Shirvell

Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who has decided to launch a smear campaign against a Michigan undergraduate student council president, appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 last night. Shirvell made headlines two weeks ago, when his hate blog against University of Michigan student council president Chris Armstrong attracted media attention. Shirvell claims Chris Armstrong advances a “radical homosexual agenda.” Shirvell’s blog depicts Armstrong with photoshopped swastikas on his face and features all sorts of hateful rhetoric directed against Armstrong. We previously wrote about Shirvell here.

I don’t know if Shirvell thought he was going to get fellated by Larry King when he walked into the CNN studio. But Anderson Cooper was not about to let this unrepentant homophobe have an unchallenged opportunity to spout his hate to a national audience. The best Cooper line: “You seem to be obsessed with this young, gay man.”

Why don’t you check out the video clip, and then we’ll discuss…

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Andrew Shirvell: Is there anything you'd like to tell us?

Andrew Shirvell is an assistant attorney general in Michigan, and he’s got a bone to pick with Chris Armstrong, president of the University of Michigan student body.

In other reports, Armstrong is referred to as “the gay president” of the Michigan student body. But on Andrew Shirvell’s blog devoted to Chris Armstrong, Shirvell refers to Armstrong as: “a viciously militant homosexual activist who is (currently) the president of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA).”

You know what they say about vicious militants, Mr. Shirvell: it takes one to know one. Shirvell — who, once again, is an Assistant Attorney General — is using his blog to conduct the worst kind of “smear the queer” campaign, and it’s all directed against a college student. You’d call Shirvell a homophobe, but that would be insulting to the many bigots out there who merely try to suppress a civil liberty or two.

Andy Shirvell is well beyond your average gay-basher…

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Craigslist services section earlier this week

The “censored” box that Craigslist put over the “Adult Services” section of its website may have been a last hurrah before capitulating to demands from attorneys general that the section be eliminated. Today, the censored box disappeared from the site.

The “adult services” section is gone, but two new services sections appeared: “cycle” and “marine.” Their offerings are not as exciting as the now-disappeared lusty section. There are multiple ads for jet ski repair in the new marine section in New York, and a “massage special” in the cycle section. It looks like would-be prostitutes are going to have to work on their bike and boat repair skills.

The law — i.e., Section 230 — was on Craigslist’s side. Why did it capitulate?

Read on at Forbes.com.

It’s the kind of fight that wouldn’t have seemed possible just ten years ago. The New York Daily News reports that right now the Democratic candidates vying to replace Andrew Cuomo as New York State Attorney General have started fighting over who can be “softest” on drugs:

Five otherwise intelligent people are competing to be the top prosecutor of a state that has seen a worrying uptick in violent crime, much of it drug-related.

Yet all they seem to argue about is who has fought harder to keep cocaine and heroin dealers out of prison and on the streets.

Okay, obviously Daily News writer Bill Hammond still thinks that the Rockefeller drug laws are not blatantly unfair and ineffective. Whatever. The important thing here is that five potential prosecutors are seemingly done with this simplistic approach to the drug problem, and the people of New York seem to be on board…

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