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).
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]
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….
If you like gridlock (and as lawyers, you should love gridlock) last night was a big night for you. Thanks to a divided Congress and a weakened President, we shouldn’t be seeing any national legislation for some time. And even as Republicans enjoyed gains in state legislatures around the country, in many cases the State Attorney General office landed in the hands of Democrats. So even if something does managed to get passed, expected it to be gummed up in the courts for a good long while.
Looking at the contested races for Attorney General around the country, we’re seeing that the Tea Party message will still hasn’t been developed into a coherent strategy as to how government lawyers should approach their jobs.
One of the biggest State AG races was in New York, where Democrat Eric Schneiderman scored a victory over well funded city Republican, Dan Donovan. The weakness of Tea Party darling Carl Paladino at the top of the New York Republican ticket didn’t help Donovan’s chances.
In California, a very close A.G. race is showing a slight lead for Democrat Kamala Harris, over Republican Steve Cooley. They’re still counting absentee ballots out there, it’s that close.
But whatever, it’s easy to discount Democrat resilience in New York and California. But outside NYC and L.A., where the ostensibly real Americans live, the top lawyer races were split and didn’t support the “tsunami theory” of Republican domination being pushed by the mainstream media folks…
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….
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…
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…
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?
The last two New York Attorneys General have become wildly famous. Everybody knows who Eliot Spitzer is, mostly for the wrong reasons. Before he became Governor Client Number 9, Eliot Spitzer attained the title “Sheriff of Wall Street.” Meanwhile, the current NYAG Andrew Cuomo was already famous because of his father. As AG, Cuomo has continued Spitzer’s legacy of asserting jurisdiction over anything that will help him run for Governor. The plan seems to be working, and Cuomo is the prohibitive favorite to become the next New York Governor.
Which means New Yorkers need to elect another attorney general. Unfortunately, nobody is paying attention to the Democratic primary (next Tuesday) where the winner will most likely be a shoe in for the job of top lawyer in New York. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 77% of registered Democrats have no idea who they’re going to vote for. More embarrassingly, 8% of respondents to an open-ended question about who they will vote for said they were going to vote for a person who is not actually running for NYAG. That’s double the 4% support “frontrunner” Kathleen Rice received.
Arguably, it’s the most important AG job in the country, the election is a week away, and 85% of the potential voters haven’t made up their mind or don’t know who is in the race. Think about that the next time somebody complains about “regulation” of Wall Street. I can’t blame Jamie Dimon if he’s not thrilled about listening to an AG who was elected by five guys who thought it would be a funny to show up and Ice election day workers.
So, as a public service to all the Above the Law readers who might actually have to deal with the NYAG, I’m liveblogging tonight’s Attorney General debate. Please check it out, I’m trying to be helpful…
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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