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 Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

U-M student body president Chris Armstrong drops restraining order request against Andrew Shirvell

By David Jesse

University of Michigan student body President Chris Armstrong has dropped his request for a personal protection order against Andrew Shirvell, Washtenaw County court officials confirmed this morning.

Armstrong requested it be dismissed because Shirvell "has not contacted me since service of the petition on him," court documents say.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100510_NEWS_Chris_Armstrong.jpg

Chris Armstrong, shown here at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting, has dropped his request for a PPO.

They were scheduled to be in court at 1:30 p.m. today for a hearing on the request. Washtenaw County Family Court Judge Nancy Francis dismissed the petition this morning.

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

Armstrong and his attorney couldn't be reached for comment today.

Shirvell's attorney, Philip J. Thomas, said the dismissal was the result of conversations between the two sides.

"I think that what ocurred today was the result of a couple of clients and two lawyers working together to try and ensure that a matter is resolved without ... wasting a lot of court time," Thomas said. "I am very familiar with PPO law. The PPO is designed and intended to protect individuals. That's what PPOs were designed to protect against, not situations where individuals like Mr. Shirvell go out and protest because they believe that an individual may not be fit to serve as the president the student body of the University of Michigan."

Thomas stressed that Shirvell, a Michigan assistant attorney general, has free speech rights.

"If a person could get a PPO in the state of Michigan (for something like this), then President Obama should be able to get a PPO against Rush Limbaugh or members of the Tea Party or anybody else and I'm not being flippant or a wisecracker," he said. "I looked into this matter, I've considered what has been done and I want you to know that everything he did, he did on his own time and it was protected on his constitutional free speech rights."

Thomas also said there won't be any contact between Shirvell and Armstrong — but noted the matter isn't over.

"We have laid the PPO to rest, but this thing isn't over for him," he said.

Shirvell is on leave from his position. The university has banned Shirvell from its campus.

In the personal protection order application filed Sept. 13, Armstrong calls Shirvell "a threat to my own personal safety” and details several instances where Shirvell followed Armstrong’s friends as they partied in various Ann Arbor locations, hoping to confront Armstrong.

Armstrong also wrotee that Shirvell called Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office twice over the summer after Armstrong took a job there to lodge complaints against Armstrong.

Armstrong said in court documents that Shirvell showed up at 1:30 a.m. at a house party Armstrong was holding on Sept. 4.

In his application for a restraining order, Armstrong said Shirvell's actions made him fear for his safety.

“The actions that Mr. Shirvell has taken against me over the past four months have been incredibly distressing,” Armstrong wrote. He added he might feel slightly different if Shirvell was a student.

“His actions … have been an outright attack on my ability to live my life openly and be honest about who I am," he wrote.

The hearing on the PPO was originally scheduled for Oct. 4, but was delayed because the papers had not been served properly on Shirvell.

Then on Oct. 13, Shirvell filed a motion asking Francis to recuse herself from the case, saying that because Shirvell had protested Francis' sister, Alma Wheeler-Smith, Francis wouldn't be able to be impartial. reporters Juliana Keeping and Lee Higgins contributed to this article.



Wed, Oct 27, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

PPOs are considered criminal and not civil, so an appellate cour has no choice in deciding to hear a case. Therefore, Shirvell could absolutley use endless appeals to get more publicity from this issue. Furthermore, Armstrong has the burden of proof and has to present evidence. I've been on Judge Francis' PPO docket before and there is no efficient way to conduct a full-blown hearing (especially for a case with this much publicity) during the regular motion docket. It would have to be set for a separate evidentiary hearing, witnesses subpoenaed, evidence gathered, all of which equals $$$$. Armstrong made a good decision and still has open avenues of recourse should Shirvell resume his antics.


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 9:16 a.m.

oooo "a pledge" he says? Wonder if as an AAG if he were in court with a criminal of some sort if he would take "a pledge" from them? O ok no problem, you promise to be good from now on? Free free let him free! Budget problems solved and thank you sir!


Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 8:26 a.m. story contains a statement by Mr. Anderson's lawyer that explains the reason for dropping the PPO. Apparently Shirvell has pledged not to attempt to contact Mr. Anderson in the future.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 10:17 p.m.

HUUMMM, Lawyer told you to save your money eh? Never was a case to begin with, Red Herring if ever there was one!

Bob Anderson

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 8:10 p.m.

@trespass wasted money? Shirvell's actions are already valid evidence for him to be disbarred by the state. I can guarantee the Michigan Bar has been getting hundreds of complaints about Shirvell. Shirvell's lack of maturity is evidence of behavior unbecoming of a government attorney. I doubt anyone in the Michigan GLBT community would believe Shirvell has their best interests in heart as a state legal liaison.

David Briegel

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 7:46 p.m.

trespass, And Appropriately So!! There are leaders and there are followers. Mike Cox is a disgrace as a leader. He hired Mr Shirvell and won't take responsibility for his behavior! And YOU and I get to pay!


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 5:45 p.m.

At the Dingell rally in Rackham, the Democrat running for Attorney General promised to fire Shirvel is he was elected. Can you imagine the money that will be wasted on the lawsuit that will inevitibly result. He is prejudging the results of a civil service disciplinary hearing before it happens.

Bob Anderson

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:26 p.m.

@Dalex64 I would believe going on AC:24 and ranting about the "gay agenda" and bashing a college student is all it would take to damage Shirvell's future political aspirations...He could move to Topeka, KA where that type of behavior is condoned by the Westboro Baptist Church.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 4:23 p.m.

Given that Mr. Shirvell is busy protesting anything and anybody with whom he deems unworthy of office, what is to say that he can be objective in HIS job? (Or should he be permanently recused from public duty?) I vote for his public recusal. The closed mindedness of some people never fails to astound me. As others have invoke religion as if the Lord 'takes sides' against some people in society? What kind of Lord is that? The entire situation is sad, and I can only hope that the public will emulate Mr. Armstrong's live and let live public demeanor over Mr. Shirvell's judgmental one.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

Maybe the two parties came to an agreement. Dropping the harassment in exchange for dropping the PPO request. A PPO on file would certainly dampen one's political aspirations.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

Chase, Armstrong's request to remove the PPO and the ban on campus by the U are not necessarily related. Maybe the U removes the ban; maybe they do not.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:26 p.m.

It appears that Andrew Shirvell is a creepy fanatic. The AG should make Shirvell's leave permanent.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:04 p.m.

Tru2Blu, Shirvell cannot come to UM's campus. Chris lives and works on UM's campus. The desired result has been achieved for Chris. The only thing the court could do was put "victory" on paper for Chris. It was unnecessary. Also, the university has campus bans on plenty of people without PPOs against them. Further, the university instituted their ban on Shirvell without a PPO in place. To say that the university will suddenly drop their ban is ludicrous. I'm pretty sure Shirvell has received the appropriate message at this point. When an entire city unanimously approves a measure against you and when people all over the entire country call your bosses office to complain about you... the message tends to get received. I don't think Shirvell poses any threat to Armstrong anymore;-)


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 2:01 p.m.

@True_Wolverine_Fan Technically you could do this now, so long as you do it from a public location and do not disturb the peace while you're at it... So Stephanie, I am no advocate of Chase Ingersoll's as I believe his answers to your elections questionaire did him no favors, but because he is a candidate, all bets are off? There have been a few more comments since ERMG's which are most definitely not related to this particular topic.... I can understand comments in an appropriate thread that call Mr. Ingersol's qualifications into account but comments "bordering on personal attacks" just because he is running for office? I might have to take you up on that invite as I would have liked to be a fly on the wall during those internal deliberations.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Armstrong dropped the suit. Do we know why? Because the rent is too damn high!


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

@Roadman: Was he geting extenal pressure from someone? It is very likely, and the pressure is from the U. Juliana Keeping may have more related stories to tell us as she hintted in her article.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 1:13 p.m.

A friend of mine who is a civil rights lawyer just called me about his thoughts on this case. He said he believes Chris dropped the PPO because once Chris won Shivell could appeal - and appeal - and appeal and possibly make this case something like the case involving the Westboro Baptist Church and their right to protest at funerals. It already has the media attention to turn into something like that. I hadn't thought of that, but if that were the case, I would drop the suit too. Why give Shirvell a platform on which he can spout his hatred. Nicely done Chris.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

Chase, Do you agree with Andrew Shirvell's behavior in this case? Because I could start coming to your home at 1 in the morning and video taping your residence, too... I mean, if you agree with Andrew Shirvell that is.

Jordan Miller

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 12:41 p.m.

I've been impressed by Chris Armstrong's behavior from beginning to end. This young man is barely even an adult, and he's been harassed constantly by a public official (that's so crazy I can't even wrap my head around it). If you haven't thought about just how horrible that would be, stop and imagine if someone in a position of power created a hate blog about you and stalked your family. Or what if this were your son? With a swastika drawn on his photo, and a man standing outside his home with a video camera? And instead of lashing out in anger, Armstrong has remained calm, collected, and incredibly mature. And I think this decision just fits right in line with that -- Shirvell's behavior stopped, so why perpetuate the circus and waste time in court? Chris Armstrong is an exceptional role model for kids everywhere who are bullied for their beliefs. If you act with dignity, and take the high road, you come out looking like the champion that you are. And the other guy (and anyone who supports him) looks like a total idiot.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

While questionable why Chris would decide to drop the ppo, it is his choice. I believe Chris decide to take the high road, by displaying he holds no hate in his heart and is not a vengeful person. Furthermore Andrew Shirvell seems to have toned it down, negating the need for a ppo.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 12:23 p.m.

Bulling is Bulling!! I'm really disappointed that Chris Armstrong dropped the PPO! I understand that Andrew Shirvell has not bothered Chris since he filed the petition for the PPO and that Chris may be taking the "high" road. But why drop the PPO?? When things calm down I bet Andrew Shirvell will start harassing him again. There are many saying this is a non-story.. well you're wrong, this is a story. There are many young people in the LGBT community that are committing suicide because they're being bullied! And how ever you look at it Andrew Shirvell's actions toward Chris Armstrong are those of being bullied. This was a chance to stand up to your bullier and tell them bulling is not acceptable.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

This story is important. I feel uneasy knowing that Shervill is still assistant AG. That's VERY important. Honestly, this man appears to have some serious emotional problems if, as reported he and his buddies were showing up at a residence where there was a party and following some of the attendees home in an attempt to intimidate them, and those types of actions, very unlike showing up at a public rally with a sign that disagrees with something. It does appear that this was the case. Some people appear to be treating this as if it is a case about gay rights or something. I'm for gay rights, but if we had a gay assistant AG stalking someone who was opposed to gay rights and following home people who had gone to someone's residence socially, I'd feel exactly the same way. If that person had shown up at public rallies with a sign, that's a whole different story. My take is that there needs to be public action taken. Anyone who does something like this needs to be removed from office, promptly. Who would take this action? Here we have a gross abuse of power by law enforcement at the highest level of our state.


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

Thank you candidate Chase for gracing us with your legal analysis. Care to explain why you don't practice law, what with your diploma and your Illinois attorney experience?


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

It's probably very difficult to be a student, a student body president and a plaintiff in a nationally known lawsuit. I don't blame Chris for dropping this at all. The University's ban of Shirvell is enough of a block to keep Shirvell away. The PPO, at that point, was unnecessary. If the university drops their ban, then look for the PPO to come back. Regardless, this loon Shirvell should be fired. Immediately.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

Enough already with this, he needs to get over it.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Armstrong backed down. This dismissal was a victory for Andrew Shirvell. He will likely go back to his job with his head held high.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Hey, while I both agree and disagree with some of BOTH Chase Ingersoll AND Edward R Murrow's Ghost's comments, does ERMG's comments not fit the "too personally directed to another commentor" (unlisted) guideline for removal I so often see (when a tombstone is left at all)? Just curious, in the name of consistency and all... In any case, yes why drop it? If all of the fear of life issues previously discussed were true and in evidence, why not get the ppo anyway. Even if the AAG has not contacted the victim since the service of the petition, the PPO is already set in motion. It would cost almost nothing more to complete it and would make little difference to either party IF there remains no contact (unless the AAG is a gunowner and CPL holder in which case it could be a big deal for him).. IF there was or will be contact however now the victim is behind the curve again. That he drops the petition so close to and after all the trouble that went into getting to this point....well it makes one wonder.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

Mr Ingersoll, as long as you are evoking God, God also made Mr Armstrong in his "image and likeness". It utterly amazes me that Mr Shirvell would have gone as far as he did to harass Mr Anderson, another being created by God. If Mr Anderson is not another being under God, then one must believe that a persons sexuality is learned and can be changed at will. Welcome to the 15th century? Do you also believe that the world was created 6000 years ago? That every fertilized human egg has a soul? That people and dinosaurs inhabited the world at the same time? That the Earth is the center of the Universe? The operative word for the day is compassion, a word whose meaning has certainly eluded Mr Shirvell and ultimately yourself by defending Mr Shirvell in your comments.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

I just love it when people complain "this has been a non-story for awhile now" and "not enough people care anymore" but somehow it was enough of a story or you cared enough to read the story and post commentary about it. As for the actual story, if Armstrong finds that it is in his best interest to drop the PPO request, then that is his prerogative. I'm sure many of us would like to have seen him nail Shirvell to the wall in a court of law. But situations like this don't exist for our entertainment, despite what many news outlets would have us believe.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 10:58 a.m.

I wonder what prompted Armstrong to drop his PPO request? Was he geting extenal pressure from someone? The whole thing seemed overly politicized. It seems that a PPO hearing would rival the John Scopes trial as far as publicity and probably gain national media attention for both litigants. By the way the Chase Ingersoll/John Dingell confrontation has made the New York Times as well as the D.C. periodical "The Hill". Chase Ingersoll may have the most famous finger in America. At least it got its fifteen minutes of fame, as Andy Warohl would say.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

I think that maturity is the major issue here. As long as we are supposing, let's say that the PPO is no longer necessary. If it is no longer necessary, the only reason to pursue it would be to cause unecessary hardship to Mr. Shirvell. Perhaps Mr. Armstrong recognized this and did not wish to cause undue aggravation to Mr. Shirvell. Not everybody seeks to do to others in turn as they have had done to them. Perhaps in that light, this was a "come to Jesus" moment. Although there are many other deities and philosphers to whom he might have gone to get the same result. Maybe it just made sense without consulting higher powers. It seems to me that Chris took the high road in any case.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

Something is wrong with this latest developement. If the PPO worked, why ask that it be dropped? What makes Mr. Armstrong think that Mr. Shirvell won't reappear as soon as the PPO expires? Was something going to be revealed that would be embarrassing to Mr. Armstrong? But, over all, I agree with ShadowManager...this has been a non-story for awhile now. Hey, maybe that's why Mr. Armstrong is dropping the PPO...not enough people care anymore.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:47 a.m.

Juliana Keeping & did a great job. Please read the artical{} With poll: Ban of assistant attorney general from University of Michigan campus raises questions about trespass policy


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:32 a.m.

I think Armstrong decided to take the high road. He is certainly within his rights to ask for a restraining order.

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

If he had any legal grounds and every allegation was true, why would he [Armstrong] drop it? He would go on the witness stand under oath and reiterate each fact alleged in the complaint. Further, his [Armstong's] attorney is probably not going to respond to any questions as the answers would be against [Armstrong's] interest in not being sued for filing a verified court pleading containing allegations that he [Armstrong] knew to be untrue or on grounds that were frivolous. I also suspect that counsel for the Universty of Michigan finally got around to looking at the record and sat he [Armstrong] down for a little "come to Jesus" moment regarding the civil liability that Armstrong as a representative of the University has possibly created for not only himself by the U of Michigan and it's police department for under color of law acting against the free speech rights of Shirvell and banning him from campus. Is there any doubt that a Shirvell/Thomas Moore Law Center action against Armstrong and the University is pending? I concede to those who suspect that Shirvell and Thomas Moore planned this long before Shirvell began his protest of the Student Assembly President's extra-curricular activities.


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

Things move fast in this world...and I'm already completely tired of this whole story. Next.


Mon, Oct 25, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

This whole scenario is just bizarre.