State Attorneys General

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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Sports and Presidential politics have a long and storied history of entanglement. Everyone knows that President Obama is a White Sox fan who has dutifully filled out March Madness brackets and agitated for a college football playoff. Likewise, Mitt Romney is said by some melodramatic fans of figure skating to have saved the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Lesser known amongst political nerds is that William Howard Taft, along with being our 27th President and also serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was the original starting center for the Harlem Globetrotters. The original Round Mound of Rebound, Taft was said to have installed a basketball court in the White House commissary. Late at night, when the Mrs. was fast asleep, Taft could be heard working on his lethal hook shot and pounding large boxes of chocolate donuts downstairs on the newly installed court.

Among his more famous quips, Taft is said to have uttered, during an oral argument at the Supreme Court, “I’m the Michael Jordan of law! Who wants to sex Mutombo?”

Let’s talk sports…

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Andrew Shirvell

[T]here’s no way I could possibly ever pay such a judgment.

Andrew Shirvell, commenting on the $4.5M jury verdict awarded to Chris Armstrong in his stalking and defamation case against the former Michigan assistant attorney general.

(Shirvell has been unemployed since being fired from the state attorney general’s office over his anti-gay online campaign against Armstrong, and he plans to appeal the judgment.)


If you’ve ever wandered over to Backpage.com and spent a few minutes reviewing the classified ads there, you probably realized that you had just discovered the seedy underbelly of the internet. Rife with ads for adult services — which is arguably just an elegant way of saying prostitution — the website, owned by Village Voice Media, has come under fire for its association with human trafficking.

Leave it to the company’s general counsel, Elizabeth McDougall, to take a stand for these scandalous online ads. After all, it’s great business! Backpage reportedly has a 70% market share for prostitution ads in the United States, generating millions in revenue.

This week, McDougall is taking additional heat from state attorneys general for her statements in an off-color op-ed column published in the Seattle Times. What could she have said that was so controversial?

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If you don’t have a lawyer, it is hard to really put their feet to the fire and make sure the banks have every ‘t’ crossed and ‘i’ dotted… We are going to make sure funding for those legal services is restored.

– New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, discussing the implications of a $2.7 billion hard-cash settlement under a nationwide mortgage servicing agreement.

As part of the settlement, New York State will receive a guaranteed $136 million, and New Yorkers who suffered during the foreclosure crisis will be eligible for an estimated $648 million in additional payments. Schneiderman said the settlement will help restore legal service programs that were cut back in recent years.

About a month ago, we brought you the story of Alisha Smith, an assistant attorney general from New York who was suspended for allegedly moonlighting as a dominatrix. Her reported sexual proclivities earned her our Lawyer of the Day title, so it wasn’t a surprise when she beat the competition into submission to take September’s Lawyer of the Month title.

Today, however, we have news that our lascivious ligatrix can dish it out, but isn’t exactly a fan of taking it. Although whips and chains may excite her, being on the receiving end of a professional spanking just isn’t as erotic.

Smith and her sexy alter ego, Alisha Sparks, have gone public with some new information that may be shocking to those in the BDSM community….

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Alisha Smith

In our sexually repressed society, we just love it when “normal” people are exposed to have kinky sex lives. The bigger the disparity between the person’s “regular” daytime pursuits and their nighttime shenanigans, the better.

And while we know better here at Above the Law, the outside world tends to think “lawyer” is about as conservative a day job as possible. It’s a profession of discretion. So when the New York Post found a lawyer, a government lawyer no less, who reportedly gets paid to be a dominatrix on the side, it was going to be big news.

But come on, doesn’t “dominatrix” sound like relatively normal sexual activity for a securities lawyer working in the New York Attorney General’s office? This doesn’t sound like something she should be punished for.

Let she who is really satisfied by going home to five minutes of missionary before Leno cast the first stone….

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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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