A federal appeals court says a former assistant state attorney general owes millions of dollars for stalking and harassing a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.
The episode has already cost Andrew Shirvell his job as a lawyer for the state. Now, he also owes $3.5 million to former UM student body president Chris Armstrong.
Shirvell challenged the jury award. He said he was exercising his First Amendment right to protest against a public figure. He also said the judgment was excessive.
But the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the decision, and said Shirvell’s words and deeds went beyond simple speech and protest and were false, damaging and malicious.
“His behavior went beyond simple speech and protest; he went to Armstrong’s home and followed Armstrong and his friends,” read the opinion in the case. “….Shirvell’s conduct was grossly excessive, reaching far beyond Armstrong’s leadership and agenda and striking at the core of his personal life.”
The court did reduce the size of the original judgment, saying one of the claims against Shirvell was redundant. Shirvell was also sanctioned by the court for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Armstrong’s attorney.