Court will not reconsider unemployment benefits for Shirvell

By Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 1, 2013

A Ingham County judge denied a motion filed last month by state officials to reconsider unemployment benefits of former Michigan assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell, who harassed former Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong.

Judge Paula Manderfield confirmed her previous decision in October that Shirvell should receive benefits, according to a Dec. 19 ruling.

While an assistant attorney general for the state, Shivell ran a blog accusing Armstrong of having a “radical homosexual agenda.” In 2011, Armstrong filed a defamation suit against Shirvell, who was ordered to pay Armstrong $4.5 million in damages in August. Shirvell was officially dismissed from his position in March.

In a statement regarding the ruling, Shirvell lauded the judge, but criticized the state for what he called “a complete waste of taxpayer money.”

“The state’s motions for reconsideration represent a sad commentary on just how far the state of Michigan is willing to go in order to trample on citizens’ constitutional rights,” the statement said.

Shirvell, who declined to disclose the terms of his unemployment benefits, said in an interview that he was “thrilled” with the court’s decision.

“The state’s position is really, truly absurd,” he said. He added that the state caved to LGBT rights-focused voices calling for his firing.

Attorney General spokeswoman Joy Yearout told the Detroit Free Press that the state plans to appeal Judge Manderfield’s decision.

"We disagree with the ruling and will pursue an appeal,” Yearout wrote. “Shirvell was terminated for misconduct and is not eligible for unemployment benefits.”

If appealed, Shirvell is confident that he will win. “I guess they’ll continue on to the bitterest of ends, but in the end — in the final analysis — I’m going to win,” Shirvell said. “There’s just no way around the Constitution."

In his most recent statement, Shirvell continued to criticize Armstrong’s attorney, Deborah Gordon, who is currently being sued by Shirvell for defamation.

Gordon feels she has become a “scapegoat” for Shirvell.

Regardless of the ruling, Gordon said she hopes Shirvell will use any income he receives to pay off the $4.5 million awarded to Armstrong.

“I’m looking to collect on (the) judgment from him, so if he gets employment or income, it’s fine with me — something to collect,” Gordon said. “He now thinks I have something to do with this, which I do not, nor do I care.”