DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Michigan Attorney Discipline Board says a former state lawyer committed misconduct when he hounded a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.
Andrew Shirvell was an assistant attorney general when he was fired in 2010. He had criticized Christopher Armstrong on an anti-gay blog, on social media and during visits to the Ann Arbor campus.
In filing the lawsuit back in 2011, Armstrong claimed Shirvell had been stalking him both at U-M and at his home. Armstrong’s attorney Deborah Gordon said in the complaint that Shirvell displayed a “bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong through the critical blog and Facebook posts in which he claimed Armstrong was pushing a “radical homosexual agenda.”
Then-Attorney General Mike Cox fired Shirvell in 2010 after he criticized Armstrong, while Shirvell argued he was exercising free-speech rights and that his statements were either true or protected because of Armstrong’s role as a public figure. A jury later awarded $4.5 million to Armstrong.
“It was definitely a nightmare when it was going on,” Armstrong told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil at the time. “It was very hurtful — a lot of the things that were said and put out there about me, and I’m just glad that the record has been set straight.”
The report was filed Tuesday, months after a hearing. A three-member panel at the Attorney Discipline Board says Shirvell also committed misconduct with a frivolous lawsuit against Gordon.
Shirvell lives outside the state but still holds a Michigan law license.
The case next will turn to a penalty phase.
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