You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 7:49 p.m.

Washtenaw County prosecutor rejects request to charge assistant AG Andrew Shirvell with stalking

By David Jesse

Washtenaw County prosecutors denied a request for stalking charges against Andrew Shirvell, saying his speech and actions toward University of Michigan student body President Chris Armstrong were protected speech.

“The only fair review of Mr. Shirvell’s statements is that they are offensive and mean-spirited,” Konrad Siller, first assistant prosecuting attorney, wrote in a memo denying stalking charges on Tuesday. “However, Mr. Shirvell’s statements criticizing Mr. Armstrong’s presidency are not considered harassment under the stalking statute.”

U-M Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown confirmed charges were denied.

Thumbnail image for Andrew-Shirvell.jpg

Andrew Shirvell, shown in this Michigan Daily photo, will not face stalking charges.

“We submit our investigations to the prosecutors for their review and leave it in their hands,” she said.

Shirvell and Armstrong couldn't be reached for comment tonight.

U-M Det. Jason Forsberg submitted the report to prosecutors on Oct. 6. Campus police had been looking into Shirvell’s behavior since late last school year, according to records contained in the official police report forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.

Forsberg started looking into the matter on June 7, 2010, after campus Police Chief Kenneth Magee asked Forsberg to contact Armstrong about possible harassment by Shirvell.

“Laura, I can see your concerns and from the stalking standpoint, I would like to generate a report, as well, document this,” Magee wrote to Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones on June 7 after Jones e-mailed to express her personal concern about the issue.

In his report, Forsberg said he received e-mails about Shirvell’s behavior during the course of the investigation from Brown; Anika Awai-Williams, the program manger/advisor for the Michigan Student Assembly; Jones; Sam Goodin from the Dean of Students office; and Armstrong.

In those e-mails, Forsberg was told Shirvell picketed Armstrong during an April 30, 2010, Laramie Project event on campus, and Shirvell had been writing a blog attacking Armstrong. “Awai-Williams told me that Shirvell had been blogging about Armstrong and that the nature of the blogs were anti-gay and against Armstrong.”

Armstrong is the first openly gay student body president at U-M. Shirvell, a U-M alumnus, is an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan. Shirvell also helped run current Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s campaign for that office.

Shirvell is currently on a voluntary leave from his job and faces a Nov. 5 hearing in front of the state's Civil Service Commission.

“We will monitor Armstrong’s 2010-11 administration of the Michigan Student Assembly to ensure that he does not discriminate against pro-life, pro-family, Christian and minority student organizations at U of M,” Shirvell wrote in a post explaining the purpose of his blog.

Forsberg interviewed Armstrong on June 8. According to the police report, “(Armstrong) has never told Andrew Shirvell that he does not want personal contact. He does not want me to talk to Shirvell to tell him he does not want to be contacted.”

Forsberg also heard about Shirvell bothering Armstrong’s friends outside an Ann Arbor bar.

“I explained to Armstrong and Awai-Williams that the circumstances described to me did not constitute stalking,” Forsberg wrote in his report. “I told Armstrong to contact me or anyone at DPS if he had contact with Shirvell that he felt was inappropriate.”

Forsberg’s investigation of Shirvell also revealed Shirvell pleaded guilty to operating while impaired in May 2009 and was charged with assault and battery in 2001.

A U-M incident log of that Sept. 13, 2001, case shows someone called campus police to report "a subject spit on him as he was angry at him from (a) previous dispute."

Records from Ann Arbor's 15th District Court indicate Shirvell was charged with assault and battery and disorderly person (jostling) as a result of that incident. In May 2002, he pleaded no contest to the disorderly person charge and the assault charge was dropped, those records show. No other details were available.

Over the course of the summer, campus police continued to receive reports of Shirvell blogging about Armstrong and calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, where Armstrong was doing an internship.

On Sept. 8, Armstrong e-mailed Forsberg a series of photos of Shirvell at Armstrong’s house late at night. Armstrong also said he would be coming to the Department of Public Safety to talk about getting a personal protection order against Shirvell. Court documents have shown that Shirvell showed up at 1:30 a.m. Sept. 4 at Armstrong’s house and that on Sept. 6, Armstrong asked for a police escort from his house because Shirvell was outside at 11:27 a.m.

Armstrong filed for a PPO on Sept. 13 and asked a judge for it to be put in place immediately, which was denied. A hearing date was postponed once before Armstrong dropped his request on Monday just hours before the hearing, saying he'd had no contact with Shirvell since the request was filed.

On Sept. 14, U-M police served a trespass notice on Shirvell on the sidewalk in front of Armstrong’s house. That trespass order bars Shirvell from being on U-M-owned property.

Shirvell will appeal that order in a hearing set for 1 p.m. Friday.

“If we get a fair appeal tomorrow, I think we’ll get this thing set aside,” said Philip Thomas, Shirvell’s attorney.

Forsberg described serving the trespass order in his report.

“Ann Arbor Police were on scene taking a stalking harassment report from Armstrong for the activities taking place at Armstrong’s residence,” Forsberg wrote. “Shirvell was provided a written copy of trespass notice and advised that he could not be on U-M property. Shirvell asked if trespass included events that were open to the public on U-M property, and I explained it includes all U-M property.

“Shirvell stated he would abide by the law. I advised Shirvell that Chris Armstrong has filed a police report with U-M Police and that Armstrong feels harassed by Shirvell’s behavior. I told Shirvell that Armstrong did not want to have any contact with him. Shirvell told me that he has been very careful and has ‘not had any contact’ with Armstrong and that he would not contact him.”

The next report included in the file sent to the prosecutor’s office was dated Oct. 6, noting that Forsberg was sending the whole file to the prosecutor for warrant review and possible charges.

Siller responded to that request on Tuesday.

“In short, Mr. Shirvell’s statements, although at times childish and disingenuous are protected speech as he has a right to criticize the qualifications, campaign promises or public views of the student body president,” Siller wrote. “For these reasons I cannot authorize a stalking charge against Mr. Shirvell.” reporter Juliana Keeping contributed to this story. David Jesse covers higher education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 1:46 a.m.

A study showed that validated prosecuturial misconduct goes unpunished 99% of the time. And that's when their sending innocent folks to jail as a result. It's a protect our own mentality in the government. Shirvell isn't able to do his job because of his behavor as he's suspended, probably with pay, so why is he still employed if he's not able to do the job he was hired for? Protecting their own at taxpayer expense, that's the real crime.


Sun, Oct 31, 2010 : 1:39 a.m.

This is just a case of "protecting our own" by authorities. It's crap. Shirvell abused his position and his position should hold him accountable to a higher standard than an ordinary citizen. It should be "easier" to prosecute him for this type of stuff instead of more difficult. He's probably still getting "paid" and that should make every Michigan taxpayer mad as hell because his own actions are preventing him from doing the job he was hired to do, therefore he needs to be fired. This discredits the whole justice system in my mind.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 4:40 p.m.

U-M student leader seeks assistant AG's disbarment. The complaint alleges five specific actions Shirvell has taken against Armstrong: Calling Armstrong Satans representative on the MSA Repeatedly harassing and heckling Armstrong outside his home and on other locations in and around the U-M campus Falsely accusing Armstrong of binge drinking and improper conduct at churches and on school grounds Trying to get Armstrong removed from a summer internship in House Speaker Nancy Pelosis office in Wash Read more:


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

Yes, the AGC grievance. No surprise there. The bigger story is that high-profile civil rights attorney Deborah Gordon is now representing Armstrong. It looks like Armstrong is angling toward a future civil suit against Shirvell. Armstrong probably wants adverse AGC findings against to assist him in a future suit. Good luck. A lawsuit filed in aliberal venue such as Washtenaw County is likely to go a long way. It would be far from frivolous and likely last years. Interesting to see if the State of Michigan is brought in as a defendant in such a suit or if Shirvell has liabilty insurance coverage. What is interesting is that, per campaign finance records available with the Secretary of State, Shirvell resides in Eaton County. An awfully long druive to Ann Arbor. Shirvell has made a lot of legal problems for himself by his actions, but he has won so far.

John of Saline

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 2:39 p.m.

Check the Free Press: Chris had another card up his sleeve, it turns out.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 1:32 p.m.

I don't know whether bloggers are willfully ignorant of the facts or not but they keep talking as if Shirvell was at Armstrong's private home, peeping in the windows. It was a fraternity house and they were having a rush week party that was being broken up by the police. Shirvell was videotaping the police break up the party from a public sidewalk. It is not like it was in the middle of the night while everyone was sleeping. I wish the reporters would be more specific about the circumstances when they mention it in their articles.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

It is very sad that a middle-aged adult attorney and government official has nothing better to do with his time and energy at 1:00am than to stalk college students. Most of us (especially in this economy) would not have time for such extracurricular activities. It does seem quite clear from the wording of the Michigan statute that Mr. Shirvell's videotaping of Mr. Armstrong's residence from the sidewalk at 1:00am, following of Mr. Armstrong's friends, and contacting of Mr. Armstrong's workplace constitute exactly the kind of harassment that is described in the stalking statute. It is very telling that most folks are not choosing to do in retaliation to Mr. Shirvell and Mr. Shirvell's family/friends/professional associates what Mr. Shirvell chose to do to Mr. Armstrong. That says volumes about what response most folks consider to be consistent with human dignity--even in the face of outrageous bullying behavior. It is exceedingly sad what Mr. Shirvell through his own actions has chosen to do to destroy his own credibility and reputation.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

It's nice to agree with SPEECHLESS here,despite wrangles we have had on other issues. "Limit pushing' for its own sake ( i.e an obsession with means--the more exhibitionistic the better--rather than sensible ends) seems to be the common denominator among the shirvell supporters. As to Shirvell himself,as others have pointed out, he's picked a weird, yet not uncommon way ( especially for gay- bashing pols and clerics), to come out of the closet.

Bob Anderson

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

@Heardoc Thanks for being a quality representative of conservatives. If I didn't know any better I would have guessed you are Shirvell posting. I have one question since when did one's sexual preference determine their leadership ability? Shirvell has the right to rant all he wants. It doesn't mean your and our Shirvell's beliefs are based in any logic at all. The only radicals here are you and Shirvell.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 12:06 p.m.

Shirvell is well trained as a lawyer and clearly seeks to push the limits of technically lawful free speech as far as he possibly can without going over the line and into behavior that is legally defined as stalking or harassment. An important element, I suspect, that has allowed Shirvell to get away with his most obnoxious actions is Armstrong's public role as elected student assembly president. If Armstrong were an unelected campus activist with more limited public visibility, then Shirvell would likely find himself deeper in legal hot water, with his image as an obsessive bully greatly magnified.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

Thank you Mick 52 for pointing out major weaknesses in Armstrong's claims. Shirvell was not put on prior notice that his conduct was unwanted nor did he want the detective to impart such notice. Why not? Being on a sidewalk demonstrating is protected Free Speech. Using a camera on a public sidewalk is not criminal conduct either. There is no evidence that Shirvell made threats or excessive noise while in front of the Armstrong residence. When anti-affirmative action protestors marched in front of the Ann Arbor home of Michigan Department of Civil Rights commissioner Mr. Bernstein, there were no police called because there were no laws broken. Bernstein, who vied for the Attorney General nomination as a Democrat this year, met with the demonstrators and even had food catered in. I suspect that Armstrong may have wanted to make this into the overblown issue it has become to support his own agenda; the same may also be said for Shirvell. I am not impressed with the conduct of either men, who should be setting examples for others. But I see no infringement on the rights of Armstrong. U-M better get this matter resolved with Shirvell before it receives a major civil rights lawsuit.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 10:51 a.m.

Who are these prosecutors? Are they the same guys who sent a female lab specialist to the court on a malicious destruction of property charge? I know this woman. She is from China, a very talented researcher. She did not destroy or damage anything.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 10:51 a.m.

This is not about stalking, it is not about a physical threat, it is about constitutionally protected rights. You cannot use the stalking law to over ride the 1st Amendment's right to speech assembly and protest, particularly a person in an elected office. To do so would have brought the ire of liberal free speech advocates down on A2. It is most significant here that Mr. Armstrong withdrew his PPO. That is a clue folks. The article notes that much of Shirell's activity was in statements, blogging, picketing. First Amendment right or stalking? When Mr. Armstrong met with Det. Forsberg, he admitted he never told Shirvell to stop contacting him, not did he want the detective to do so either. In order to prove stalking that is a key element, the suspect has to be asked to stop. So at that point Mr. Armstrong had no issue with Shirvell's behavior. It appears there was one incident at Armstrong's residence. An earlier story noted the AAPD found Shirvell on the sidewalk, which is legal. There is nothing in this story that constitutes stalking and you can't say some people have 1st amendment rights but others do not.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

Here we go agian wityh the radical left on this blog. Armstrong is the one who shopuld be investigated here -- This was just a very bad attermpt at The far left radicals trying to quell free speech once again. The prosecutor wss correct in his legal thinking. it is evident that the far left wants to stop anyone from opposing the left radical viewpoint. Shirvell is no angle but there are much better picks for a student body president than Armstrong. Uofm has much better to offer than the radical homosexual extremist Armstrong.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

I get the arguments here and I agree with the prosecutor's decision. Mr. Armstrong is a public figure and is open to this kind of harassment. I don't care about the blog at all. That said, Mr. Shrivell's behavior is not in keeping with being a lawyer in the this state and certainly not one working on my dime as a civil servant. Further, I believe he is likely to continue in this behavior and at some point this will proceed to stalking and intimidation. That said, the University Community has the same rights as Mr. Shrivell and the address of his office and home are public...have at it folks.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

"Move on Chris and quit wasting everyone's time" This isn't Chris's fault. He was targeted plain and simple. If someone came after me, you can bet I would do the same. He only tried to defend himself after the "free speech" began to materialize into physical action and Shrivell raised the bar to a national new program. Debating is one thing, defending your life and reputation is another. Justice is blind and law is a double edge sword...this time

David Cahill

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 8:13 a.m., could you please post a link to the prosecutor's memo?


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

Move on Chris and quit wasting everyone's time. This outcome was all too predictable.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 7:58 a.m.

The glee with which the usual suspects on this thread are greeting the non-prosecution decision is precisely the reason why the 1st amendment ( at least as interpreted as 'limitless free expression no matter how irresponsible and vile')is rapidly falling into disrepute with reasonable people of both leftish and rightish tendencies. there moderators! 'personal attacks' on known cranks.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 7:56 a.m.

Makes no difference if the prosecutors don't have the courage to charge Shirvell with stalking, which is what he did. His political career is over and his reputation is ruined.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 7:46 a.m.

@True_Wolverine_Fan: instead of criticizing what I said, you might want to talk to someone who is a Constitutional lawyer- you will then understand why I said what I said. And as events have unfolded, not only did the Prosecutors office not find Shirvell's actions( though crazy and creepy) rise to the level of stalking, Armstrong himself withdrew his request for a PPO.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

This is not about free speech, it is about behavior. I feel like this topic has been redefined as free speech. If someone were filming my home at night and following me, I'd feel stalked and I'd want some protection. If they were following guests home from my house, I'd think it was harassment. This is being done by someone with power, so it also becomes an abuse of power. Redefining the issues so you can whitewash the whole thing is a typical strategy of those who abuse power. Disgusting!


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Poor Ken Magee (UM police chief) and Suellyn Scarnecchia (UM General Counsel). They are stuck between a rock and hard place. If they maintain the trespass ban they will face a federal civil rights lawsuit that they will very likely lose and if they lift the trespass ban liberal ann arborites will go nuts.


Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 2:46 a.m.

Hey Shirvell, get a CCW. This should just about stop everything occuring to you. Oh. That's right. Weapons aren't allowed on "campus" but hey, they are on the "Streets of Ann Arbor"

Black Coffee :)

Fri, Oct 29, 2010 : 12:49 a.m.

Shirvell called a WEIRDO on this POST, abut dropped my cup of coffee laughing.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 11:51 p.m.

Yes, but it is now three-for-three for Andrew Shirvell. His lawyer got Armstrong to drop his PPO request. He did not get charged with stalking by the County Prosecutor. He will get a hearing on Friday that he requested on his banishment from U-M. If he wins his Nov. 5th disciplinary hearing with the A.G.'s office along with Friday's hearing, he will have gotten off scot-free. He will be the "Teflon Asst. A.G." If he gets denied in his request to be removed from a Trespass List, he may be filing a major civil rights suit against the University. Guess what? Andy Shirvell may coming out of this smelling like a proverbial rose!

Bob Anderson

Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 10:50 p.m.

I guess I am a glass half full person. I see evidence that bigots like Shirvell decreasing in number each day. Education is the only answer to increasing tolerance and understanding in our society.

Basic Bob

Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 10:47 p.m.

@fishjamaica, Thanks for reminding me why I won't be voting for Mike Cox on Tuesday....because he's not on the ballot! Some people believe the government should just throw out the laws and do what's right. I can't agree with that. For instance, some think flag burning is an acceptable form of protest, while others consider it desecration. It's not up to the prosecutor to decide which of these is right, only what is allowed by law.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 10:38 p.m.

I think most of us can agree that no matter how much we dislike the guy we all get he can say what he wants....I don't think anyone is really disputing that....It's his actions. You cannot simply show up at people's houses in the middle of night to harass them. It's one thing to be at rallys, to be involved in your school, beliefs, and so on but following people home takes it to a whole other level.

Bob Anderson

Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 10:37 p.m.

for pete's sake are we still on the Wilkerson crap again...


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:59 p.m.

Constitutionality: Michigan's anti-stalking law is not an unconstitutionally vague threat to freedom of speech. Staley v Jones, 239 F3d 769 (CA 6, 2001). Michigan law - 750.411h Stalking c) Harassment means conduct directed toward a victim that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable individual to suffer emotional distress and that actually causes the victim to suffer emotional distress. Harassment does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose. (d) Stalking means 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. (e) Unconsented contact means any contact with another individual that is initiated or continued without that individual's consent or in disregard of that individual's expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Unconsented contact includes, but is not limited to, any of the following: (i) Following or appearing within the sight of that individual. (ii) Approaching or confronting that individual in a public place or on private property. (iii) Appearing at that individual's workplace or residence. (iv) Entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual. (v) Contacting that individual by telephone. (vi) Sending mail or electronic communications to that individual. (vii) Placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual. (f) Victim means an individual who is the target of a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment. An individual who engages in stalking is guilty of a crime


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:36 p.m.

@DFSmith No, the escort has nothing to do with him being gay,. It has to do with a person standing outside his home at 1:30 am FILMING what is going on, then returning and following him to his class. I think people should start doing this to Mike Cox and the prosecutor who says he is all for free speech. Let's see how long that lasts. These are all PUBLIC figures and should be treated as such. How about I show up at Rick Snyder's home or Chase Ingersoll's? I wonder how long before a person on the GOVERNMENT payroll moves you out of there.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:33 p.m.

@DFSmith, "Is Armstrong supposed to get extra protection from the law because he is gay? Seems that is what the previous 2 comments seem to imply" ---- If this was my kid I would want protection for him. Shirvell poses a real threat to Armstrong at this point. The guy is certifiable. To do the things that he has... I might even ask my kid to consider transferring schools for his own safety (if the school and government weren't willing to step in). The fact that you can't see how demented this Shirvell guy is says more about you than anything. And to try and say because Chris is gay he's trying to game the system for extra protection... it's a pathetic argument. It's like saying gays who want to get married want "extra rights". It's sad arguments like yours are still being made in 2010. Just sad.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:16 p.m.

If all of the accusations against Shirvell were valid, I would not believe the DA would let this go. I believe that there is an emotional level here coloring the truth. I personally am tired of this story...not news, not important...words do not hurt people, only actions and objects can hurt people. Stop whining people, get over yourselves and try to understand that some people say hurtful things but they only hurt if you allow them to.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:14 p.m.

Is Armstrong supposed to get extra protection from the law because he is gay? Seems that is what the previous 2 comments seem to imply


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 8:09 p.m.

Konrad Siller made the proper legal call here. Impotantly, he noted Armstrong's position as a student body president. This implies that Armstrong os a public figure who is expected to be criticized. Just like the humiliation Congressman Dingell received at the hands of Chase Ingersoll. Clearly, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office has recognized the proper scope and reach of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Something they did not recognize when they charged Dr. Catherine Wilkerson with "attempted obstruction" of an officer in 2007. I also think they felt a "common bond" with Shirvell as fellow government attorneys, whereas they felt no identification with a political activist such as Dr. Wilkerson. Politics at work at the prosecutor's office, but in the end a legally defensible position.


Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 7:50 p.m.

In short, Mr. Shirvells statements, although at times childish and disingenuous are protected speech as he has a right to criticize the qualifications, campaign promises or public views of the student body president, Siller wrote. For these reasons I cannot authorize a stalking charge against Mr. Shirvell. ----------- Nobody is talking about his protesting of Armstrong or his blog as the reason for the stalking and PPO, though. The issue is when this psychopath shows up at Armstrong's house at 1 in the morning to videotape and then is back again at 11 in the morning to follow Armstrong to class! I would ask for a police escort as well... this Shirvell guy is a complete nut job! I have a friend who has a PPO against an ex for a lot (seriously a LOT) less than what Chris Armstrong has had to go through. U of M better not lift the ban on Shirvell... I wouldn't feel safe if I was Chris.

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Oct 28, 2010 : 7:50 p.m.

Nice to know that hate speech is protected in Washtenaw county. Way to go, prosecutors! /sarcasm