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Posted on Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

Andrew Shirvell's attorney threatens lawsuit against University of Michigan

By Juliana Keeping

An attorney representing Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell plans to ask the University of Michigan to allow his client back on its 3,000-acre campus, now that U-M's student body president has dropped his request for a personal protection order against Shirvell.

And if the trespass warning issued Sept. 14 isn’t rescinded, a lawsuit against U-M will likely follow, said Philip Thomas, Shirvell's attorney.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Andrew-Shirvell.jpg

Andrew Shirvell, pictured in this Michigan Daily photo taken at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting, currently can't step foot on campus.

Armstrong, who is the university's first openly gay student body president, filed the restraining order request Sept. 13 after Shirvell launched a blog attacking him for his "radical homosexual agenda" and started showing up at events and outside his house to protest and heckle him.

Shirvell maintained his actions constituted protected speech guaranteed under the First Amendment. The events sparked a media firestorm, and Shirvell took a voluntary leave Oct. 1, possibly using his own vacation time, Thomas said.

A Nov. 5 hearing will determine what disciplinary action, if any, will be taken against the assistant attorney general at work.

According to Thomas, his client has tried to get a hearing with U-M Public Safety Director Ken Magee at least three times since campus police read Shirvell a trespass warning on Sept. 14.

A meeting hasn’t yet been scheduled, and Thomas said they haven't heard back. A campus police spokesperson confirmed there a meeting with Magee hadn't been scheduled as of Monday.

“In the matter concerning the appeal of the trespass, we want that withdrawn,” Thomas said. “He should be able to go onto that campus for whatever reason. It’s legal as long as what he’s doing is legal, and he’s not threatening in any way.”

Thomas said his client is proud of attending the University of Michigan and loves his school.

“The next step would be the courts,” Thomas continued.

Thomas said his client hasn't been charged with a crime and didn't threaten Armstrong, although Armstrong described feeling threatened in his request for a personal protection order. Armstrong withdrew that request this morning.

“But we’re confident when they see the Ann Arbor Police Department report, as well as evidence that the PPO has been dismissed, we’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to get both of those matters resolved, and that cooler heads will prevail," Thomas said.

A university spokesperson did not immediately respond to an e-mail from

Juliana Keeping is a health and environment reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 10:14 p.m.

This is what happens when people place a higher priority on what they have a legal right to do than on what is the right thing to do. If Mr. Shirvell had any capacity for empathy, this situation would never have gotten to this point. As it stands, I do wonder if this man has a serious personality disorder or other form of mental illness. All that aside, I'd wager that there is precedent for attorneys being disbarred for less. If that is the case, then perhaps "the right thing to do" in this case would be to remove from Mr. Shirvell the privilege of practicing law, at least in this state.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:53 p.m.

This issue is tailor-made for Mary Sue Coleman to spend money on. Has City Council passed a resolution about it, or are they still on Chickens and Fountains?


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:17 p.m.

With all of the problems facing the State, why are time and money being wasted on a matter of such insignificance?


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:01 p.m.

Well, if you are going to be embarrassed by one U-M alum, may I suggest the Unabomber? This guy pales next to him. Why start now with this attorney? wikipedia on the Unabpmber: Kaczynski graduated from Harvard University in 1962 and subsequently enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he earned a PhD in mathematics.[8] Kaczynski's specialty was a branch of complex analysis known as geometric function theory. His professors at Michigan were impressed with his intellect and drive. "He was an unusual person. He was not like the other graduate students," said Peter Duren, one of Kaczynski's math professors at Michigan. "He was much more focused about his work. He had a drive to discover mathematical truth." "It is not enough to say he was smart," said George Piranian, another of his Michigan math professors. In fact, Kaczynski earned his Ph.D. with his thesis entitled "Boundary Functions" by solving a problem[12] so difficult that Piranian could not figure it out.[13] Maxwell Reade, a retired math professor who served on Kaczynski's dissertation committee, also commented on his thesis by noting, "I would guess that maybe 10 or 12 men in the country understood or appreciated it."[14] In 1967, Kaczynski won the University of Michigan's $100 Sumner B. Myers Prize, which recognized his dissertation as the school's best in mathematics that year.[14] While a graduate student at Michigan, he held a National Science Foundation fellowship and taught undergraduates for three years. He also published two articles related to his dissertation in mathematical journals, and four more after leaving Michigan later.[15]

Joe Hood

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 7:56 p.m.

@Roadman Nice work!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

If one goes to the State of Michigan website it shows on the Secretary of State section that Andrew Shirvell is a heavy donor to Mike Cox campaign committees Shirvell also was a donor to the "5200 Club" a little-known organization filed in 2002 by Mike Cox's wife Laura which has received contributions from some of the most prominent businesses and leaders in Michigan, including Blue Cross, the Miller Canfield law firm's political action committee and others.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

@bedrog: The legal defense of Dr. Wilkerson was furnished by the National Lawyers Guild and at trial the jury accepted the defense argument that the prosecution was trying to "criminalize free speech". The charge of "attempted obstruction" of a police officer was based on the fact she believed the officer was endangering the life of the arrestee due to positional asphyxiation. The U-M policy on heckling is that it is acceptable free speech. No criminal charges arose against the doctor from alleged heckling of Raymond Tanter. I believe that any legal defense of Shirvell would be based heavily on his First Amendment right to free speech which overrides any state stalking statute under the Supremacy Clause. The vigils at Temple Beth Israel have been legally analyzed and approved by the City of Ann Arbor, but have precedent in the Jewish community as well. After the exoneration of John Demjanjuk by the Israel Supreme Court for alleged crimes against humanity complicity, Jewish activists in the Cleveland area obtained parade permits to demonstrate in front of Demjanjuk's Seven Hills home, which they did until 1996. Michael Moore transported gay activists to Mississippi to demonstrate in front of the home of Senator Trent Lott, which was done under the watchful eye of police. Protected free speech at work. In Ann Arbor, anti-affirmative action activists marched in front of the home of a Michigan Civil Rights Commission member (Mr. Bernstein) a few years ago to protest the commissioner's support of such a policy. Protected free speech at work again. There is considerable argument that Shirvell is being singled out due to political motivations i.e. that he is anti-gay. This would violate the First Amendment. My guess is that Shirvell has a reasonable shot at complete exoneration, although far from 100%. Much will depend on the nature of his conduct and how a judge interprets that conduct. We can examine U.S Supreme Court opinions dealing with free speech such as Chaplinsky in the early part of the 20th century, the line of Smith Act prosecutions of CPUSA members that were handed down in the 1950s, and the Brandenburg decision around 1970 and we see that there is a common threa in each decision - the criminal defendants in those cases all represent either right or left wing extremists whose speech was inflammatory. In most of those decisions, the right to free speech was upheld. In 1998 in the City of Ann Arbor, the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated in an offensive manner that created near-riot conditions requiring 273 law enforcement officers to protect the demonstrators, however not one Klansman was prosecuted, although 35 arrest warrants were authorized by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office against counter-demonstrators. Their abilty to demonstrate in the first place was guaranteed by the court system as long as they followed city requiremnts in otaing a parade permit.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 2:24 p.m.

Sorry about that, Joe Hood and all. The internet archive was working a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to see first hand what all the fuss was about. My gosh, Mr. Shirvell is a spooky guy. I can't imagine it is okay or legal to be in front of someone's house, taking photos, in the middle of the night.

Joe Hood

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

@mkm17 No luck on the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine): We're sorry, access to* has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

I am amazed as to how little the repeated references here to "free speech" have to do with speech. Speech is intelligible vocalization intended to convey meaning. It is the very opposite of in-your-face obnoxious behavior whose purpose is to intimidate and cause distress, not to express ideas. There is no evidence that Shirvell had any intention of debating Armstrong or having a civil discussion with him. The issue is whether his non-speech activities were extreme enough to warrant legal sanctions. Roadman cites as free speech its exact opposite: an organized disturbance to prevent an invited speaker on campus from giving his speech; such interference with free speech by a small private group is at least as reprehensible as similar action by the police would have been. The Phelps harassment of military funerals is before the US Supreme Court; the issue is whether their activities (which do not include much speaking) are sanctionable, not whether they are wrong.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

Well put, Wondering. That's my take on it, too.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

I'm not embarrassed to hold a degree from UofM... Why would the actions of one person cause me to be ashamed? I am betting that there are plenty of people who have earned their degree through UofM that have done things that are not exactly wonderful or laudable. No need to get all dramatic about it. That said - the actions of Andrew Shirvell are/were totally wrong. While I do understand why he and his attorney are trying to defend his 'freedom of speech' - I think that any rational person would have to agree that his systematic and continuous 'attacks' on Mr. Armstrong, which all seemed to be based upon or somehow related to his homosexuality, became harassment. I do think that Mr. Armstrong has the right to feel safe in Ann Arbor, however - to ban Shirvell from Ann Arbor period is taking the No Tresspass law to an extreme. It opens the door to this law being used in ways it was not meant to be implimented and thus - abused. Why not issue an order that legally restrains Shirvell from see, speaking to or otherwise coming t=into close proximity to Armstrong?


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 10:14 a.m.

For middle-aged government officials in a democratic society to believe they have the right to stalk 20-year-old college students is beyond incredible. For middle-aged government officials in a democratic society to CHOOSE to stalk 20-year-olds is truly unreal. Interestingly, bullies always need someone to fight with--hence the continuation of the fight now with the University of Michigan (since Mr. Armstrong chose to take the high road). We all have the ability to choose whether angry bullies will stalk our children, co-opt our conversations, or rule our country. Time to let Mr. Shirvell tilt with windmills--all by himself.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 9:34 a.m.

Kai Petainen? This is what I have been maintaining and saying all along. UM can't do and legally up hold this stupid trespass thing because half the stuff UM owns or is under, is public domain. No duh there that the Huron river runs thru their property. UM you are stupid and so is your trespass ordinance. I really hope this guy nails you to wall and makes you look totally ridiculous. Nuff said. This is totally whacked. As for attorney representing attorney? It looks better then trying to rep yourself. This way you aren't being totally bias and out there. Two head better then one deal.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

You can see older versions of the blog using the "Wayback Machine". The images and text are really disturbing. And even more disturbing because Mr. Shirvell works (or has worked, or used to work?) in the AG's office.

Joe Hood

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 9:13 a.m.

@Bob Anderson I looked on the blog before this thing went national.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

I'll say it again, this entire thing is creepy. I realize that creepiness, per se, has no place in the law. But Mr. Shirvell's interest and pursuit of Mr. Armstrong is really disturbing. If I were Mr. Armstrong, I would be quite nervous.

Bob Anderson

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

@joehood oh those pictures were there and so was the hate speech. I guess Shirvell did some cleaning up after he was exposed on Anderson Cooper.

Joe Hood

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

@Bob Anderson That's the odd part, when I read the blog, that stuff wasn't on there. There were no doctored pictures of anyone either.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:15 a.m.

Shirvell is a lawyer and clearly has tried to push the limits of his free speech as far as possible without going over the line and into the realm of stalking. Meanwhile, U-M defines and handles trespassing in a highly immature and aggressive manner. The university administration has major control issues. These two unpleasant, narcissistic antagonists may soon face off against one another in a local court. Chris Armstrong is caught in the middle of this.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 7:19 a.m. your previous:Wilkerson's actions, and their consequences in the Tanter episode --e.g. obstructing officers in pursuit of their duties--were of course political, as was the UM's appropriate response. i.e she was part of an orchestrated effort to abridge the free speech rights of an invited speaker ( as she and her cronies had repeatedly attempted to do off campus, re freedom to worship without harassment). The latter contributed to the Packard Clinic's correct judgement that she was a detriment to the institutions image/mission...something any employer,especially a private one, can do. If she does ultimately win her case and goes back to her incendiary activities please suggest to her that her signage needs spell and fact checking. e.g. 'afghanistan' has an 'h' in it; and it's hard to call one of the fastest growing populations in the world the victims of 'genocide'.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 6:57 a.m.

Just a shot in the dark here, but I'm guessing Mr. Shirvell needs to stop his self-loathing actions and step out of the closet.

Bob Anderson

Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

@joeHood You cannot be serious if you actually read Shirvell's blog and come to the conclusion that was not hate speech. Linking Armstrong to the devil is the very definition of hate speech. Shirvell's blog is no longer public after literally thousands of us that support Armstrong and civil discourse reported it to blogspot for violating the terms of service prohibiting hate speech.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:39 p.m.

@ Joe Hood, I think the individuqal at google actually made that comment about anyone taking stock on what is published at and participating in the subsequent discussions.

Joe Hood

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 10:44 p.m.

@Bob Anderson I have not seen said hate filled speech. I saw blog references to the Armstrong Facebook page but saw nothing that anyone reasonably could say was hateful, unless the opinion was deemed not PC and hence wrong. The information that was pointed to was public information (the silliest thing about Facebook--was it someone from Google who said young people should change their name later in life to hide their Facebook activities?).


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:36 p.m.

The question is does Title IX protect a student against discrimination due to sexual orientation? That would be news to me. We can rest assured when and if Philip Thomas brings this lawsuit on Shirvell's behalf, the nitrogenous waste shall be expected to intersect with the rotating airfoils. Philip Thomas isthe fellow who, as Grievance Administrator, took on former Democratic Party gubernatorial nomineee Geoffry Fieger. Philip Thomas himself had a civil rights suit filed against him by a former underling at the AGC. He now is in private practice.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:25 p.m.

Does the Clery Act come into play at all with all the trespass orders? The University has a federal obligation to protect students from known offenders - does that extend beyond mere notification? I'm just wondering, I haven't seen it mentioned but it seems like a reasonable argument to me. And in the particular case, does UM have obligations under Title IX to protect Armstrong from harassment by Shirvell while on campus?


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:18 p.m.

Bad facts make bad law, the U is going to dig their heels in here on principle. Trespassing is a common law crime, there will be some extensive brief writing on this one. Time to think about the most important elections of all, the judiciary of this state's highest court. If you are for Shirvel, vote for Young and Kelly, if you are for Armstrong and the U vote for Davis and Langford-Morris. Everyone focuses on the people who write the laws, but they fail to consider the individuals they are going to elect to either uphold them or turn them over.If you are inclined to vote for Slick Rick on economic principles, but worry about reproductive freedom issues, split your ballott and go with Davis and Langford-Morris.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:01 p.m.

The UM police violated their own policy with regard to giving trespass warnings to Borisov and Martinson. Their own policy states; Because of their requirements to be on campus, unless extenuating circumstances exist (i.e., poses an immediate threat to the safety of others), University students, faculty and staff members should not be issued the trespass warning. Alternatives to the warning may include but are not limited to: a. Criminal prosecution for other crimes (e.g., entering without breaking, stalking) b. The Student Code of Conduct c. Other University disciplinary action Dr. Borisov was a faculty member at the time he recieved his trespass warning and Linda Martinson was a student. UM police officers are so intent on pleasing the administrators that they often do not even know DPS or University policies.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 8:55 p.m.

Thank you, Rich Rodriguez, for making that joke funny. Armstrong had a good case for a PPO. The University doesn't. So I hope public money isn't wasted on this case. As much should go to educating as possible. I'm very tired of ivory tower pc politics and I'm kind of glad Shirvell is taking them on, even though I think he's a (redacted).


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 8:40 p.m.

I don't understand why he would not be allowed into Michigan Stadium or Crisler, MSU has owned those facilities for years....I don't think they have banned him.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 8:23 p.m.

@bedrog: The case is Catherine E Wilkerson M.D. vs. University of Michigan, Court of Appeals Case No.265220, Supreme Court Case No. 132294, downloadable on the website. Dr. Wilkerson was employed by the University of Michigan as an E.R. doctor and alleged violations of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act for her support of another employee alleging on-the-job discrimination. The University of Michigan had appealed her case and an application for leave to appeal was pending in the Michigan Supreme Court when the a criminal charge was filed against her for attempted obstruction of a U-M police officer in connection with her rendering of medical attention to an injured protestor while she attended a speech given by Raymond Tanter on the U-M campus. Following this incident "trespass notices" were issued to a number of persons associated with that incident. There was speculation whether or not the trespass notices or the referenced criminal charge were based on political considerations. Her employment at the Packard Clinic came after the University of Michigan.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 8:09 p.m.

@trespass, you should think how lucky you are, you got a phone call from ken Magee in person. Can you understand how busy "our chief" is? He has 3300 "trespassers" around campus. They keep calling his office for scheduling these trespass appeal appointments 9am to 5pm every day.

Bob Anderson

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 8:04 p.m.

@Roadman good luck in that defemation suit against anon posters especially when the IP address pulls up a false positive as it commonly occurs for RIAA lawsuits. Then you have a slew of countersuits, especially for someone as divisive as Shirvell. There is a whole set of anti-Shirvell posts just ripping him apart in Ann Arbor. tresspass, you are wrong about the University. There are literally hundreds of pending litigation against the university. They can afford to pay out Shirvell. @Joehood, repeated following of Armstrong as witnessed by others in the university community. Then you have the infamous 1 am film session to go along with his hate speech filled blog. I would think that would constitute as repeated unwarranted harassment. I cannot fathom how anyone can condon Shirvell's actions.

Joe Hood

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 7:45 p.m.

@ERMG "demonstrated behavior" by who's account? Is that what was mentioned in the Ann Arbor Police report? This whole ordeal seems entirely knee-jerk in fashion. It's nice that facts finally come, the light always does shine, eventually. @True_Wolverine_Fan: There is nothing illegal about standing in front of my house at 1AM on the public sidewalk, if you're up to that sort of thing. @Chase: all of your points are right on without prejudice.

Tom Lienert

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 7:41 p.m.

The U of M should tell Mr. Shirvel to sue and be damned. If he actually goes ahead with a suit, the U should then file a complaint against him for "conduct unbecoming", which is what a public official using his or her authority to harass a private citizen constitutes.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 6:59 p.m.

@Heardoc: "This Armstrong Radical"????? Huh? Because he is openly homosexual? Because he supports mixed gender housing? I fail to see how your slander of Mr. Armstrong contributes to this discussion. Shirvell is clearly stalking him and is obsessed with him. In our society which has no real gum laws, we must be very scared of people like him obtaining weapons and using them. What happens is that after something like that happens, we all ask, "why did this person not get stopped". This is not to suggest that Shirvell is off his rocker or has threatened gun violence (to my knowledge), but the use of the Nazi swastika on top of an individual who is identified as gay (and a target of Nazi violence) gives me reason to fear that. Similar to if he used Nazi logos over a Jewish site, Jewish communal leader, etc.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 6:38 p.m.

Armstrong was about to lose the battle in court and gave up prior to public humiliation. Shirvell does have a valid case -- if he can prove that the trespass warning was given to quell his speech. The university is rather unique and has difficulty in enforcing the 'No Trespass' order in that it is a public place that is owned by the public -- so the really only areas that can be sealed are the classrooms and non-public places-- all other areas remain open. The trespass warning is merely a form of harassment/intimidation by the UofM police. While there may be many on the list -- few, if any, are ever arrested as the UofM police know it is essentially unenforceable. Think of it like this -- can the Ann Arbor police ban you from a street? Or a neighborhood? That can only come from a Judge--albeit one that really needs some remedial assistance (Nancy Francis). Shirvell will win his case with UofM and this Armstrong radical is just a flash in the pan.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 5:50 p.m.

@Donovan- you are wrong, the University doesn't have money, students have money they give the University, which it wastes on way too many lawsuits.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

Good Luck with that lawsuit against the University. I know that with employement lawsuits they fire you, and you have to take them to court. They drag it out for a couple of years, then give you a couple hundred grand. You then share that with your lawyer, pay taxes, and you are still out of a job with not much to show for it. The University has money, therefore they have the power.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.

I would personally contribute to a UM defense fund against a shirvell suit as i offered to do to the Packard Clinic which properly fired the incendiary antisemitic doctor 'roadman' incorrectly referred to as having been employed at the UM. Ditto the others roadman so evidently admires, from the hate-crazed Phelps family cult to local jew baiters banned from campus. Free speech, if totally inaccurate and inflammatory, should not inevitably be 'rewarded -by-employment' or 'public platform 'speech. That's what street corners and rooftops are for.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 5:23 p.m.

@true wolverine fan- you mischaracterize the videotaping. It was a rush party at his fraternity house that was being broken up by the police at 1:30 AM that was being videotaped. You make it sound like it was his private home and he was peeping in the windows.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Bob Anderson: A defamation lawsuit occurred earlier this year against an MLive poster using a pseudonym in Warren alleging that a planning commissioner was engaged in certain proscribed conduct. The planning commissioner filed suit against a John Doe defendant, subpoenaed MLive to ascertain the identity of the poster. After the subpoena was served the poster filed a Jane Doe motion with the judge to block his/her identity from being revealed. The judge denied the motion and assessed costs against "Jane Doe". "Jane Doe" turned out to be a Warren City Councilman who ended up negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the planning commissioner. True Wolverine Fan: I believe the conduct of Shirvell is embarrassing to the State Bar and find it personally disgusting, however I believe as a legal matter he may well be likely protected by the First Amendment in his conduct. The bigger issue is the literally thousands of persons who are indefinitely excluded from U-M upon the whim of a police official. I find that scenario repugnant. I believe that many minorities and politcal activists may have been wrongfully excluded from the University in an unfair manner. The potential for abuse is staggering. f

Bob Anderson

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:53 p.m.

Chase we can do without your sarcasm towards Michigan alums, especially in the district which you are running in. I would hope for someone that is running for office could conduct themselves in a more professional manner, even online. Seeing the political climate will live in, I guess that is asking too much.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

@Roadman Are you seriously defending Shirvell stalking Chris Armstrong like this? Seriously? Showing up at his home in the middle of the night to videotape his residence is WAYYYYYY over the line. Shirvell has no reason to be there other than to stalk and intimidate Chris. If you're seriously defending this action there is no reasoning with you. I'm shocked that anyone would defend it. It's indefensible! Post your address on here and we'll show at your house at 1 in the morning and videotape what's going on on some random night. I'll also show up at your work, call your boss repeatedly, follow your friends when they go out to eat and start a website posting anything you write and anything anybody writes about you - with my crazy spin of course. Wow. To defend this... just wow.

Bob Anderson

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:50 p.m.

completely agree true_wolverine_fan. Videotaping an individual in the middle of the night is not free speech but stalking. I applaud Armstrong for taking the high road. Chase, nobody will ever pursue defamation against anonymous comments on a message board or article. First off there is the issue that a website is personal property of the owner. The owner has first amendment rights just as Shirvell does for publishing whatever content he/she wants. Secondly, most comments are made from anonymous accounts under pseudos. Identifying the individual commenters would require tracking the IP address of each individual entry. Even then the IP address would not be correctly identify each commenter. Many comments are made from public IP's and computers. You are correct that Andrew's election does elevate him to a status that opens him up to critical review. However, how would you like it if I went to your place of business with a picture of you with a Hitler mustache and created a blog linking you to the Holocaust? You see where I am going here. Shirvell's actions are protected by the first amendment. However, they are far below the civilized manner to which is expected of him as a member of the Michigan Bar and the attorney's general office. His lack of civility in public demeanor alone opens Shirvell up for termination. Shirvell is supposed to be an unbiased steward of the law of the State of Michigan. Therefore, Shirvell is expected to protect all demographics of the state in a fair and unbiased manner. Shirvell's actions call into question whether he can perform this duty expected of him.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:48 p.m.

I can't decide which is more lamentable: the university's insistence on a meaningless publicity ploy guaranteed to spur litigation, or an attorney general bent on baseless victimization and slander. Either way, here are our tax dollars at work. Thanks a bunch.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:35 p.m.

Trye Wolverine Fan: If you have a personal injury claim against an insurance company, expect the insurer to have a private investigator taping you at your home and anywhere else you can be found. It is a commonplace occurrence. Same goes for law enforcement officers who may suspect criminal activity afoot at yor home; no search warrant is needed. It is perfectly legal as long as you are not trespassing while operating your camera.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:24 p.m.

Chase, You seem to be missing a pretty gigantic point. Showing up at someones home at 1 in the morning to videotape their residence is NOT protected speech. It amazes me that you can't understand this. What a pity.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:24 p.m.

The information I have seen is that several thousand persons are on this police "Trespass List". The list has no time limitation; once you are on you stay on indefintiely. There is no administrative mechanism to appeal the banishment by the police. Some people get on this list simply by being discovered by police in restricted areas of the campus they may or not be aware is prohibited. It, however, places a certain stigma on the person so named, especially since such a list is ostensibly publically available via a Freedom of Information Act Request. Courts have held a due process right to one's good name is recognized. It is different than a private business, who may exclude whom they wish from a commercial premises. One prominent example of individuals who have found themselves on this list were those who had been demonstrating against Raymond Tanter's speech in December of 2007. A number of arrests were made for heckling. One individual, not arrested, was a medical doctor, who was charged the following month by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office for allegedly obstructing with an arrest by giving medical attention to an arrestee who had trouble breathing. The physician, Dr. Catherine Wilkerson, was acquitted following a jury trial tha drew international attention. Dr. Wilkerson had a civil rights lawsuit pending in the Michigan Supreme Court arising from her prior employment at U-M Hospital. The criminal charges and trespass notices received by individuals associated with this incident were issued by the University for what has been viewed by some as political reasons. They were seen by many as being harassed due to their exercise of Free Speech. To delegate broad exclusionary powers to a law enforcemnt official that interferes with a citizen's right of access to a public place and is non-reviewable raises serious constitutional due process concerns. Courts have in the past held that law enforcement officers may not sit in an adjudicative role due to apparent conflict of interest concerns that a police official is viewed as to closely allied with police interests and an unacceptably high risk of potential bias exists against the member of the public so targeted. Mr. Shirvell's lawsuit could have this entire list voided. 25 years ago the City of Dearborn banned non-residents from public parks and there cries that this was being done to exclude blacks from nearby Detroit from using parks. A major legal battle ensued which was fought in the courts on constitutional grounds over the city's ability to do so. Is Mr. Shirvell being excluded due to the anti-gay content of his tirades; or, rather, because he harasses Armstrong. There is a fine line between the two characterizations and the intent of the University in excluding him is critical. Fred Phelps currently has a case before the U.S. Supreme Court being argued by his daughter that raises issues closely related to the Shirvell matter. The Attorneys General of no less than 48 states are filing amicus briefs in opposition to Phelps. Most federal circuit courts of appeal have upheld Phelps' right to demonstrate at the outside public sidewalks of cemeteries where the families of fallen soldiers are holding private burials. Rev. Phelps, like Assistant Attorney General Shirvell, may be viewed as an obnoxious jerk, but the courts have generally supported his right to demonstrate. A suit by Shirvell could challenge the ability of a law enforcement official to exclude a citizen from a government facility open to the general public. In my opinion, there is too much danger the way the procedure currently exists that the University's "top cop" can uses his power to exclude others for non-legitimate reasons. He could, possibly, for example, exercise his discretion, in excluding Hash Bash organizers engaging in Free Speech he may oppose, but give a pass to gun control advocates on campus, whose views may be to his liking. The way it standis now he as too much discretion and this discretion is non-reviewable at the administrative level. The Michigan Student Assembly last year narrowly passed a measure banning non-students from speaking at MSA meetings during the public commentary period. Many saw this as an attempt to exclude pro-Palestinian speakers whose commentary content was not welcomed by some MSA representatives. There was talk of a legal challenge to this ban but it never materialized. There needs to be a test in the federal courts on these issues for the benefit of all.

Kai Petainen

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:18 p.m.

If someone is not allowed to enter UofM property... then are they also banned from going on the city streets, or canoeing along the Huron River, as both places are under UofM police jurisdiction?

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:12 p.m.

Well, it's good to know how embarrassing this is for so many of Wolverine alumnae. Now, back to issues raised in the story. 1. Roadman: nice tip on Attorney Phillip Thomas being the former administrator of the Attorney Grievance Commission. It's highly likely that Shirvell has been referred to the Grievance Commission. The referral would be kept confidential during its investigation and the matter would not become public unless the Administrator filed a complaint against Shirvell. With Thomas as counsel, it is likely that the embarrassed Wolverine Alums will not suffer further embarrassment of a complaint against one of their fellows. 2. "at least three times" Shirvell has allegedly requested a HEARING with campus police. U of M / campus police are being set up for a civil rights action for depriving Shirvell of "due process". That the allegation will be that a request has been made three times and we are now over a month and Shirvell still can't get a meeting with the police, we don't know what the department's rationale is, but every day of delay digs the whole a little deeper. That the University may not even have a hearing process for person to protest a trespass order makes it even worse. 3. Thomas statement as reported indicates that the University Police have not even read the Ann Arbor Police Report. Not good. No excuse. University Police need to at least be able to say that their attorneys have the information and that they are waiting to hear from their attorneys on the proper way to proceed. 4. Matt Cooper: if you are going to cite the language of a statute, please include a link so that we can reference the part that you chose to leave out. Michigan Stalking Statute MCL750411.h (c) specifically states that "....harassment does not include constitutionally protected conduct OR that serves a legitimate purpose..." If Armstrong was private about his beliefs and actions he might have protection, but as a voluntary public figure who is publicly promoting that a public body adopt a gender neutral agenda....he can't claim emotional distress any more than I can claim such if someone wants to stand outside my residence with a sign, and claim I am a Nazi for not supporting Nat.ional Soc.ialized health care for all. 5. The statute defines stalking as "repeated harassment". So if we haven't met the definition of harassment, we can't meet the definition of stalking. 6. Defamation: here is the link to the elements of defamation. Please reference the second page on Opinion and Fair Comment Privileges and ask yourself how many commenters have publicly accused Shirvell of committing a crime, and how those comments may have created a civil liability for such a commenter and what their defenses might be.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:37 p.m.

I look at it like this. If there is nothing wrong with what Shirvell did, then imagine this. How would Mr. Shirvell feel if some creepy, 40 yr old guy starting following around his college-age daughter everywhere, waiting for her outside of clubs, videotaping parties outside her house at 3am, protesting and walking in front of her house all hours of the night, and shouting her down at public campus appearances? It's creepy, bullying, stalking, and harassment. Shrivell definitely has his rights, but if this happened to anyone's daughter, everyone would be screaming to throw the creeper in jail. He should be kept off campus. Shrivell is a public safety hazard and the threat to public safety trumps any right or freedom of speech this guy has.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:25 p.m.

If "there's nothing wrong" with what Shirvell has done, and it's "free speech," then why doesn't he make his home address public knowledge so people can stand outside his home with a video camera??? Yeah, I thought so.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

iluvum speaks for me too. Shirvell is hate and ignorance personified. I can't believe he is educated.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

iluvum speaks for me too.

Bob Anderson

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:59 p.m.

@Stephen Landes I have the same opinion as iluvum. I am embarrassed to hold a degree from the same university as Shirvell. He speaks for me as well of those that prefer civility in political and religious discussion. Civility these days is too rare.

Matt Cooper

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:58 p.m.

@roadman: This has nothing to do with anyone "abridging freedom of speech". The trespass order isn't about free speech. It's about protecting an associate of the University of Michigan from the unwarranted, vile, unnecessary and totally innappropriate attacks of an obviously disturbed individual. Shirvell's behavior and actions towards Mr. Armstrong including publishing a website dedicated to calling him every name he can think of, slandering his name and picketing outside his place of residence is nothing more than harassment bordering on stalking. According to the Michigan stalking statute: Stalking is defined as: "a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested, and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested." "willful course of conduct" refers to a pattern of behavior made up of a series of two or more separate and noncontinuous acts which share the same purpose. To be "harassed" means that there is repeated contact without permission, which results in emotional distress. No part of this statute has anything even remotely to do with supression of the exercise of free speech. It was designed to protect people from the very type of harrasment Shirvell is comitting against Mr. Armstrong.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:52 p.m.

@iluvum You may speak for yourself, but I don't think you should presume to speak for nearly a half million alumni.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

"Thomas said his client is proud of attending the University of Michigan and loves his school" Mr. Shirvell - As a member of the University of Michigan Alumni, I think I speak for the entire community when I say...we are not proud of you and don't want you coming back to our school.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

Bob Anderson, One must wonder about that when this person is a staff member of the office of the Attorney General of Michigan. Is it any wonder we don't have those laws? Scary stuff.

Jake C

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:33 p.m.

@Roadman: My guess is that Armstrong dropped his suit because Shirvell backed off from public harassment, which is the whole reason for getting a PPO in the first place. A little national media attention can go a long way! But just because Armstrong is okay with the resolution doesn't mean the University has to dismiss their filing. I have a hard time believing Shirvell is threatening this lawsuit to simply support all of these other political activists you're referring to -- mind giving any information about such cases and why Shirvell's case would directly affect them? And honestly, I wouldn't have an issue with the ACLU backing Shirvell, because it's the often the most heinous citizens who need the 1st amendment protection the most. Just because you're a horrible person doesn't automatically mean you should be ostracized by the media -- that's what we have a legal system for. Then again, Shirvell seems to be the sort of person who wouldn't want to be even slightly affiliate with the ACLU -- don't they only represent communists and atheists? (sarcasm).


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:09 p.m.

We need this lawsuit to test the constitutionality of the actions of the University in abridging freedom of speech. Philip Thomas is the former administrator of the Attorney Grievance Commission. Currently many political activists have been served with such a warning but they do not have the money to afford legal counsel to fight it in Court. There exist dozens of persons who can be arrested if they venture onto U-M. Such a sut would affect them. My guess is that Armstrong saw his case falling apart and backed off from a legal fight. I would like to see ACLU intervention in support of Shirvell.

Jake C

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.

I'm curious why an attorney who recently took a leave of absence from his position as an attorney needs to hire an attorney? Too much free time?