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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Attorney general fired for attacking student

DETROIT — Andrew Shirvell, the assistant state attorney general under fire for his attacks on a University of Michigan student, has been fired.

A hearing that was supposed to be held Tuesday was moved up to Monday afternoon. Philip Thomas, Shirvell’s attorney, said he showed up for the meeting and was read one sentence.

“”They said essentially that as a result of Andrew’s conduct, it’s become impossible for him to carry out his duties as an attorney general.””

Shirvell had been criticized for his blog in which he calls Chris Armstrong, the president of the Michigan Student Assembly, a radical homosexual, a Nazi and Satan’s representative on the assembly. Thomas had said his client is expressing his free-speech rights.

Thomas said the attorney general’s office left a message on his office voicemail Saturday morning, telling him the hearing had been moved to Monday afternoon. He didn’t get the message until Monday morning.

Thomas said he is shocked and confused, saying he doesn’t know what could have happened between Friday afternoon, when the hearing began, and Saturday afternoon.

A message was left with the attorney general’s office seeking comment.

“”This smells political to me,”” Thomas said.

He said Shirvell has received excellent performance reviews from his bosses, and that his employers knew of Shirvell’s off-work activities.

“”There’s been a tremendous piling on against Andrew. The liberal media started this tempest in a teapot.””

“”Andrew’s reaction is that he’s devastated over the loss of his employment,”” Thomas said.

Armstrong’s attorney, Deborah Gordon, issued a statement this afternoon in which she said the attorney general’s office made the correct decision. Gordon and Armstrong have filed complaints with the Michigan Grievance Commission, asking it to investigate Shirvell and possibly disbar him.

“”The next step must be a complete retraction of all the malicious lies and fabrications by Mr. Shirvell, and a public apology to Chris Armstrong, his family and the others Mr. Shirvell has slandered.””

Gordon went on to say it’s time for Shirvell to realize there are consequences to his “”reckless, outrageous statements and actions and that he is solely responsible for those consequences.””

Until now, Shirvell has won battles. Armstrong dropped a request for a personal protection order in Washtenaw court. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s office declined to file a stalking charge against Shirvell, saying that while Shirvell’s comments “”are offensive and mean spirited,”” they don’t meet the definition of harassment under Michigan’s stalking statute.

The University of Michigan also essentially lifted Shirvell’s ban from campus, allowing Shirvell on campus but requiring him to stay away from Armstrong.

The firing was confirmed in a statement Monday afternoon from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who said Shirvell was fired for conduct unbecoming a state employee, especially that of an assistant attorney general.

“”To be clear, I refuse to fire anyone for exercising their First Amendment rights, regardless of how popular or unpopular their positions might be. However, Shirvell repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior, and inappropriately used state resources, our investigation showed.””

Among the examples cited by Cox in the statement:

  • Showed up at the home of a private citizen three times, including once at 1:30 a.m. That incident is especially telling because it clearly was about harassing Mr. Armstrong, not engaging in free speech.
  • Further engaged in behavior that, while not perhaps sufficient to charge criminal stalking, was harassing, uninvited and showed a pattern that was in the everyday sense, stalking.
  • Harassing Armstrong’s friends as they were socializing in Ann Arbor;
  • Numerous calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Armstrong’s employer, in an attempt to slander Armstrong — and ultimately attempting to cause Pelosi to fire Armstrong;
  • Attempting to “”out”” Armstrong’s friends as homosexual,  several of whom were not gay.

Cox said Shirvell engaged in his campaign against Shirvell on company time and posted attacks on Armstrong on the Internet while at work.

“”Finally, Shirvell lied to investigating assistant attorneys general on several occasions during his disciplinary hearing.””

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