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Posted on Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

Hearing involving U-M student body president, assistant attorney general delayed 3 weeks

By David Jesse

The hearing to decide whether to issue a personal protection order against Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell has been delayed for three weeks, a court official said today.

The hearing was originally set for 1:30 p.m. today in Washtenaw County Circuit Court.

Thumbnail image for Andrew-Shirvell.jpg

Andrew Shirvell, shown here at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting, will now appear later this month for the PPO hearing. - Photo by the Michigan Daily

University of Michigan student body President Chris Armstrong filed for the order last month, requesting that Shirvell be banned from having any contact with him.

The hearing is now set for Oct. 25 at 1:30 p.m., a representative for Judge Nancy Francis said at 11:45 a.m. The delay is believed to involve the service of court papers.

Shrivell has been running a blog for several months attacking Armstrong for a “radical homosexual agenda.”

Armstrong filed the request for the PPO in mid-September. In his filing, he said that in addition to the blog, Shirvell has been showing up at Armstrong's Ann Arbor house and at U-M events where Armstrong was.

Armstrong is asking that Shirvell be banned from appearing within his sight, from having e-mail or Facebook contact with him and to be prohibited from approaching “current or former university students or MSA reps.”

“The actions that Mr. Shirvell has taken against me over the past four months have been incredibly distressing,” Armstrong wrote in the application for the PPO. He added he might feel slightly different if Shirvell was a student, but since he wasn’t, “his actions are concerning and make me feel unsure about my own personal safety.

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

Shirvell has since been banned from the U-M campus by campus police.

David Jesse covers higher education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 6:54 p.m.

Is it stalking or criticizing a politician? Would Shirvell be doing this if Armstrong had lost the election? If you put yourself in a public position you have to put up with criticism. Unless Shirvell can be proven to be a physical harm, in this case that has to be considered. I do not want to see politicians stifling critics by mis use of the stalking law.

Some Guy in 734

Fri, Oct 8, 2010 : 8:22 a.m.

My understanding--and correct me if I'm wrong--is that the PPO asks to keep Shirvell away from U-M alumni. But at approximately a half-million, Michigan has one of the larger living alumni bases. How enforceable can that possibly be? If Shirvell were to go see some musicals on Broadway (hypothetically--I don't know what his tastes are) it's nearly inevitable that he'd find at least one MT graduate on stage. Could he be cuffed for that? More realistically, if a petitioner were to make an over-broad claim such as that one, does the judge have the ability to adjust the fine details of the request?

Jay Thomas

Thu, Oct 7, 2010 : 7:49 p.m.

Armstrong doesn't seem in desperate need for protection with this delay at his request. "Shirvell has since been banned from the U-M campus by campus police." Even if Shirvell was a physical danger I wouldn't place great faith in a "banning". Look at the failure to keep Yshelu Johnson off campus. How many times has he been arrested there only to reappear the next day....

Ann Arbor Tom

Wed, Oct 6, 2010 : 6:08 p.m.

As someone who's been on the fringe of human rights activism, I offer the following observation: some of the most boisterous opponents to GLBT rights have turned out to be, in fact, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered themselves. It seems that in their inability to accept who they are within the context of shame and disgust that they feel for "having" these feelings (look to their background for a strong religious environment), and/or as over-compensation in order to deflect suspicion, they lash out against those members of the sexual minority with which they identify. When these actions are directed at only one person, it frequently indicates a sexual attraction/desire/obsession for that person. And let's not forget the anti-gay campaign ads that Mike Cox's campaign ran on television during his first run for A.G. Any hopes by the thousands of tax-paying GLBT citizens in this state that they would be treated/represented equally in the courts went out the window with Cox's election. Who headed that campaign??


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 6:52 p.m.

The hearing has been rescheduled, at the request of Chris Armstrong, for October 25 — one week before election day. As a result, Shirvell and his U-M antics will return to the airwaves and worldwide intertubes at the precise moment when the public will begin to notice that an election is about to take place. So, in response to Mike Cox's move to ditch this Republican media debacle by suspending, er, granting Shirvell a leave of absence, Armstrong counters by seeking to resurrect it during the final days of the fall campaign.


Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

An ex parte PPO can be issued when there is a clear and immediate danger, evidence of which would be a police report, hospital record, etc. In that case, I believe the judge can sign an order without either party having to appear before them. As distasteful as Mr. Shirvell's blog and activities are, it does not seem that an immediate PPO is called for. Even Mr. Shirvell gets his day in court to respond to the petition.

Sandra Samons

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

What kind of a message does this send to anyone who is seeking the protection of the courts, and to anyone who might feel constrained if they believed to object of their aggression had that protection? I don't believe for a minute that the court could not act in this case if they so desired! I think everyone is thinking first about protecting their own behinds and their own careers, rather than doing their duty for the citizens they are supposed to be serving.

Some Guy in 734

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 8:02 a.m.

Carolyn: Given that Shirvell is on leave, it's fairly likely that trying to find him by going down the hall, as you put it, would be ineffectual.

Michael K.

Tue, Oct 5, 2010 : 12:32 a.m.

Trespass, Mick, and others: If you do the research, you will see many, many occasions when Shrivell was doing much more than "protesting." Most of it is documented through his blog, and in Michigan Daily and articles. He has followed Chris' friends from bar to bar in "secret.". He has reposted private Facebook pages and comments from Chris' brother, mother, and friends on his blog, along with vulgar and seemingly random accusations based on those posts or on pictures that he has taken (Accusing a friend and his mother of immoral, illegal, and racist behavior based on a one line Facebook post and a lot of supposition/speculation, etc..) Here is one comment about a friend of Chris': "Sources familiar with the (the family) describe (the mothers) relationship with her sons as "bizarre" and "weird." The next FB screenshot perfectly illustrates this point." Huh? He is interviewing "sources" about the family of Chris' friends and posting that, along with their private FB pages?? This has gone on for months. Shrivell has been acting like a "wanna be" private investigator who has shown no respect for any boundaries in Chris' prsonal life. The fact that he is well connected politically and presumably has access and means to create false legal accusations as an Assistant Attorney General would also be cause for concern. It would seem like it would bevel easy to have Chris added to a terrorist watch list, etc., which could cause all kinds of complexity in his life. Personally, I would be totally freaked to have a very highly placed law enforcement official stalking me and publicly making accusations about my behavior. One question that comes immediately to mind is whether he posted any of this from the AG's office at work. Cox should immediately request the IP addresses for the blog posts from the hosting provider. If he was doing that it would be clear, direct, and simple grounds for his termination.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 10:34 p.m.

I agree with Mick52's statement: "What bugs me the most about Shirvell is why on earth he is still concerned about what is going on in student govt at his alma mater." This is what bothers me as well. It seems like a creepy attraction.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 9:39 p.m.

@demystify- I have yet to see a single post, in the many blogs that I have read that is "eager to cheer on Shirvell to continue to harass Armstrong". Even the few posters who would defend his behavior as legal have deplored his behavior as vile. However, many bloggers have exagerated the "threat" posed by his behavior to justify firing him and punishing him in court. Shirvell is just a bad politician who over estimates the fame he will get as a matyr to the conservative cause. He will be a flash in the pan because it is never good politics to attack a person way beyond attacking their unpopular positions. Banish him to the purgatory of a civil service job in a basement office with no high profile cases rather than giving him status in hell as a martyr.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 8:54 p.m.

Let's get back to basics: A PPO would simply mean that Shirvell would have to stay away from Armstrong. Shirvell has no valid reason to go near Armstrong. Indeed, he works in Lansing and has no compelling need to even be in Ann Arbor. So why is he fighting the PPO at all? I find it disturbing that so many posts seem to be eager to cheer on Shirvell to continue to harass Armstrong. Some are Republicans with out-of-control party loyalty. Others are of different political persuasion but partial to obnoxious behavior regardless of what cause it pretends to further. I prefer civility.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 8:32 p.m.

@Michigan Reader: That's what I wrote. The visits to his home are suspect, but how many times? Looking at his blog, I see once, when he was taping a party. The AAPD even noted he was in a legal place to be. Stalking requires more than two, but after you are told to stop. There is a distinction between stalking and legally protected activity. Suppose Shirvell is holding a sign. Is he not peaceably assembling, which is a 1st Amend right? Is protest stalking? I have yet to see any evidence that Shirvell's childish behavior is threatening, particularly for a public person to rise to the level of a need of a PPO. For example, is the behavior of paparazzis stalking when they chase Brad and Angelina around? It should be in my opinion, but public personalities have to put up with a little more than the average person and Mr. Armstrong chose to be a public person. So as a career LEO, I just do not see enough here, unless the reporting is not complete. And this is no where near as PPO worthy as the many I helped people obtain. Shirvell's behavior is rude and silly. Seems he can't stop being a college student. I can't see why he would continue with very little support. And all this is great publicity for Mr. Armstrong.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 7:56 p.m.

@Roadman.................maybe they should look for him at work. As the Assistant Attorney General, you would think it would be relatively easy to ask his boss, Mike Cox, where the hell he is......down the hall??!


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 7:53 p.m.

You've got to be kidding me. 3 more weeks?!! This is total incompetence or some behind the scenes political dealings. Unbelievable.

David Briegel

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 7:25 p.m., do you have a report on the "adjournment request" from Mr. Armstrong? Will there be a psychological profile from a competent professional since you aren't allowing others to comment?


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 7:22 p.m.

@Michigan Reader- I believe the incident you are refering to, at 1 AM, was at a rush party at his fraternity and happened once. I wish the reporters would clarify the circumstances rather than having us all speculating or relating what we heard.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 7:12 p.m.

"If that is what happened here, then Mr. Armstrong will need to use a more expensive method to serve notice, that is, to pay a process server to hand deliver the papers." Money is really tight right now, but i would be more than willing to pay for that.

Michigan Reader

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 7:12 p.m.

@Mick52--"I see very little here to support a PPO from everything I've read..." The law for obtaining a PPO says that "a 'reasonable' person must feel intimidation, or threatened..." His speech is protected, as far as I can see, but the stalking has happened more than once, (outside Armstrong's house at 1a.m.?) and stalking isn't protected by the First Amendment. I can see where Armstrong may feel he is in danger.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 6:46 p.m.

Hi David, WJR 950 news is reporting the adjournment (postponement) came at Chris Armstrong's request Any idea what is going on?

David Briegel

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 6:43 p.m.

Atty Gen Cox should be required to produce his employee at which time he could administer the appropriate discipline. They are both public servants demonstrating complete disdain for the public! I believe that is the dominant philosophy of the Republican Party!


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 6:19 p.m.

Andrew Shirvell's behavior seems to border on obsession. His continued "annoyance" of Chris Armstrong could be considered bullying, or stalking: none of which is protected under Free Speech. Bullying has led to the victim doing himself harm in many cases, and should be taken very seriously. Stalking has led to violence also. Why should Armstrong have to wait for protection? Shirvell's behavior does not dignify the office of Attorney General.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 6:06 p.m.

The reason for the delay is noted in the article - the service of court papers. This is a technical problem, something was not done correctly. I see very little here to support a PPO from everything I have read. The most bothersome is Shirvell being at Armstrong's home, but we do not know how much of that has occurred (hint). Once? Also Mr. Armstrong should know that once elected to a public position you are open to opponent's criticism and protest, particularly if your agenda is a controversial one. What bugs me the most about Shirvell is why on earth he is still concerned about what is going on in student govt at his alma mater. Grow up and move on. Student Govt has little or no impact anyway. That is what Cox should be telling him.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 5:50 p.m.

@Cash: um, you have no clue who Judge Francis is do you? So, My guess here is that she is following the law, has not had evidence presented to her that shows Mr. Shrivell is as dangerous as we all seem to think. Not saying we're wrong. I think he's off the rails and desperate but evidence is a painfully different matter. Especially when he's being protected by the AG Would Judge Francis bend based on pressure from the AG's office, no way. I might go so far as to say I think she might be almost diametrically opposed to Mr. Cox's take on the law.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 5:38 p.m.

I think the reason to delay was for the Judge to let this whole thing die down a little bit. I am sure that if there was enough information given for the Judge to worry about Chris Armstrong's safety, the PPO would hearing would have been set. I have seen Personal Protection orders abused many times. I don't think Armstrong's safety is a concern here, just the continued annoyance that Mr. Shirvel has caused.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

So far in this blog Mr. Shirvell has been called a criminal, a nut and it has been suggested that he is a closet gay. Name calling and unsupported allegations, where is the moderator? In order for the judge to issue a temporary restraining order, they must find that there is a high liklihood that the plantiff will prevail at trial. Picketting on a public sidewalk in front of his house (where the police said that he was within his rights), blogging (without threats of physical violence) and speaking at MSA or other public appearances is not likely to prevail at trial. I hope you all remember this the next time a doctor is harrassed for performing abortions.


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

It is the responsibility of the petitioner (not the court) to serve notice. A common and inexpensive way to serve notice is by registered or certified mail. The respondent could choose not to answer the door or to reply to the notice left in their mail box. The respondent can then say they were not served. It's an unfortunate loophole that enables a respondent to delay a legal action. If that is what happened here, then Mr. Armstrong will need to use a more expensive method to serve notice, that is, to pay a process server to hand deliver the papers.

michigan face

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

Paul - maybe you're right. My thinking was that they might think it will go away if it gets delayed till up to or past the may have a good point. I hope it does wake people up to what we are up against and how important this election is.

Paul Taylor

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 3:56 p.m.

Every day that passes without this item leaving the news has GOT to be bad for the GOP candidate for AG.

michigan face

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

Yes - these views are indicative of the current Republican party. Please help keep them out of our local, state and federal government. We should be allowed freedom and justice for all - remember?


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 3:41 p.m.

I'm proud that so many are supporting Mr. Armstrong. There has been a serious lack of civility shown by someone who is holding an State of Michigan appointed office. Mr. Cox is correct in saying that his assistant has shown "lack of judgement." We can look to Mr. Cox to remedy this abuse of a Michigan citizen. If not, we still have the ballot box to make clear our displeasure.

Basic Bob

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 3:22 p.m.

current or former university students Yes, Shirvell can't even approach himself as this is written. I think Judge Francis is being generous in allowing Armstrong to refile his complaint. Generally, public figures can't file a PPO. @Michigan Face, rest assured neither Cox nor Shirvell will appear on the ballot this November. So I would guess you are asking people to vote against the rest of the Republican party, the majority of whom have done nothing intolerant or distasteful.

michigan face

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 2:43 p.m.

His "talking" is threatening to tolerant ideals.

Ed Kimball

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 2:40 p.m.

I find Shirvell's behavior despicable, but an order preventing him from approaching any "former university students" is awfully broad. Wouldn't that prevent him from talking to a large fraction of the citizenry?

Constance Colthorp Amrine

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

I would like a PPO against Shirvell on behalf of the citizens of Michigan. I would prefer he not practice law on behalf of any of us whatsoever.

michigan face

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 2:22 p.m.

Any clue the election is coming up and Cox and Shirvell team Republicans would love to take the focus off this as long as they can. Who has the power - we do - please Vote and show them Nov. 2nd


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 1 p.m.

I am happy to see I am not the only person who thinks it is crazy for this to be delayed. An individual is trying to get legal papers that will hopefully help keep him safe and it gets delayed? This is insane and upsetting.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

My worry is that Shirvell of course knows every legal "trick" in the book to ensure that his own being compromised or reined in is kept to the minimum. He is not someone who is going to take his lumps and see the error of his ways. I also worry that with his direct access to Mike Cox and Cox's office that he will make life even more difficult for Armstrong as this progresses, with Cox ably and happily abetting. Armstrong deserves to be rid of this series and be protected legally, so Shirvell can go back to his blogging and protesting his many causes, just leaving Armstrong out of the equation at long last.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:56 p.m.

@amlive Thank you for the clarification. Still seems odd, but bureaucracies often do.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

JohhnyA2 - it doesn't work the same in all cases. I can't tell you the legal terms, but if the applicant can convince the judge that there's good reason to believe they are in clear and immanent danger from the accused (like an abusive spouse), then a PPO can be issued immediately and without a formal hearing. I once had a PPO issued against an individual, where I went to the court on a Friday afternoon, filled out the papers, pled with the secretary about the urgency, and she went in to the judge and had the PPO issued within an hour or two of my arriving. This was a case with a very clear threat, and quite a record already on file for the accused, and it was within the judges power to sign the papers without a hearing based on the circumstances. These circumstances with Shirvell however, I don't think cross the threshold of clearly putting Armstrong at immediate risk of personal harm. Yes, I'm sure it's a bit frustrating to see things that may seem urgent delayed for so long, but the judge has to make a decision. There are a lot of safeguards even for defendants to make sure they are not wrongly judged against, and I believe it's right for a judge to use very careful discretion in deciding whether an issue is so urgent as to justify bypassing due process. And no, I'm not defending Shirvell. I think he's a total whacko, who's demonstrated lack of cognitive reasoning skills alone should be enough to fire (or even disbar) him, free speech issues aside. Still, what we're witnessing in this delay is just an example of the sometimes painfully arduous routine of following due process. Frustrating, yes, but I think still justified to ensure objective fairness.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:39 p.m.

Arbor Guide, I'm wondering the same. If that order was against you or me, there would be no postponement.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:35 p.m.

I wonder if there was any "pressure" for this delay placed from the AG office. This is not to impugn judge Francis, but it does seem like a decision squarely to the benefit of the defendant at the expense of the complainant. It would be interesting to FOIA the phone records for the AG office and the Court (of course, that would be pretty obvious). It may also be the case that some intermediate remedy has been ordered and just not reported at this point.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

This is absurd. A 3 year old could find the Shirvel....he was on CNN last week.And he asked the AG of the state for a leave last week supposedly. So now they didn't locate him? Maybe they should ask Cox to locate him as I'm sure he's still on the payroll. Judge Francis...remember that name when it comes up on the ballot next time.

Kim Kachadoorian

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 12:32 p.m.

Getting a PPO against a relative is a different court and they are much more swift about the process. Getting a PPO against someone unrelated to you is a longer process and a different court. At least this is how it used to be - I am assuming it is still the same.


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

Can the judge issue a temporary restraining order until they can have a hearing on the PPO? The story on Friday mentioned that the judge rejected Armstrong's request that an order be issued immediately. Now that there has been yet another delay, it only seems reasonable to issue some kind of protection order. As others have mentioned, it's already been 3 weeks since he asked for one.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:53 a.m.

Armstrong filed the PPO on Sept 15 and he has to wait another 3 weeks for a hearing? I see Shirvell stretching this out as long as possible. Let's hope he doesn't escalate.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

Seriously, how hard can it be to locate an assistant AG for service of court papers? (Though if it started after he was suspended, I guess he could even have left the state or something.)


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

Shirvell is hiding in Cox's office...


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

I see as the real major issue that has come out of this is that there has been significant political ties between Cox and Shirvell with cash going back and forth between Shirvell and Cox's prior campaign committees.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

In the end, we'll all see this as a case of the pot calling the kettle black.....self-denial and cognitive dissonance often manifests itself in overt ways.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

@Paul Taylor, proper service of the PPO petition is prescribed by the Michgan Court Rules. The petition and notice of hearing must be personally served on the respondent (Shirvell) within a certain timeframe before the hearing. My guess is that there was some minor defect in how Shirvell was served (i.e. through the mail and not personally). Under the law, PPO hearings must be held within 14 days of a petition; however, when there are attorneys involved, these hearings are often adjourned (especially in a high profile case like this) to allow the attorneys to prepare, etc.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Paul: Service of court papers means that due process and the Michigan Rules of Court repuire that certain necessary parties must receive i.e. be served with court papers to afford them actual notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard. The judge may not render an adjudication on the merits of the case without opposing parties being placed on notice of the accusations and giving them an opportunity to prepare a defense in court. Proof of service must be filed in court to allow the judge to proceed to final hearing in a PPO proceedng. It is likely Mr. Shirvell has not yet beenn located for service of legal papers.

Paul Taylor

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

"Hey, I need a PPO against this guy who's harassing me." "OK, see you in three weeks!" Actually, it's "See you in a month and a half," seeing as the PPO was requested September 13.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

Wow, how long does it take to get a PPO? In the mean time, I wish Mr. Armstrong well.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:12 a.m.

"Hey, I need a PPO against this guy who's harassing me." "OK, see you in three weeks!" Egad.


Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

In the end, we'll all see this as a case of the pot calling the kettle black.....self-denial and cognitive dissonance often manifests itself in overt ways.

Paul Taylor

Mon, Oct 4, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

What does "the service of court papers" actually mean?