By Haley Goldberg, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 31, 2011
Though Andrew Shirvell, a University alum and former Michigan assistant attorney general, filed a lawsuit against attorney Deborah Gordon, she said she is not fazed.
Gordon, the attorney representing former Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong in his lawsuit against Shirvell, said in an interview yesterday that the allegations Shirvell has leveled against her — including interfering with his employment, defamation and invasion of privacy — are “truly absurd” and have “no legal or factual basis.”
However, Shirvell claims in the federal lawsuit filed Friday that Gordon played a role in his termination as assistant attorney general on Nov. 8, 2010, by negatively influencing the investigation against him within the Department of the Attorney General.
“(Armstrong and Gordon) are using me as a way to further their political agenda and their monetary agenda in the media at my expense,” Shirvell said in an interview yesterday. “So I want some justice, and I want Ms. Gordon to pay me damages for everything she has done to me.”
Cox originally defended Shirvell's actions as freedom of speech on an interview on Anderson Cooper 360 in September 2010.
Prior to being fired, Shirvell engaged in cyberbullying against Armstrong, MSA’s first openly gay president, on his blog “Chris Armstrong Watch.” On his blog, Shirvell wrote that Armstrong, a spring 2011 graduate, was pursuing a “radical homosexual agenda” as MSA president. Shirvell was also temporarily banned from campus last fall after he reportedly stalked Armstrong.
Shirvell was fired from his position last year for lying during a disciplinary conference, using his resources in the attorney general’s office for non-work related purposes and “harassing conduct,” then-Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox wrote in a statement at the time.
Shirvell said he believes that Gordon knew Michael Ondejko, the attorney general investigator on Shirvell’s case, when he still held his position with the state. Shirvell claims that Gordon deliberately gave information to Ondejko about Shirvell’s previous experience in a case regarding a Michigan State University student.
“Ms. Gordon used her prior relationship with the investigator Mike Ondejko to basically … get me fired,” Shirvell said.
Gordon represented a former MSU journalism director who had dismissed a student Shirvell also spoke out against, according to Shirvell. Gordon, however, said the claim is false. Though she knew Ondejko from when he served as a witness in a previous case, she said she never engaged in conversation with him about Shirvell or the investigation he was conducting.
“I never spoke to Mike Ondejko about Andrew Shirvell, at any time,” Gordon said. “I never spoke to anybody from the attorney general’s office. None of that ever happened — that’s made up.”
Shirvell said Gordon’s statement that she never spoke to Ondejko is a lie, and he believes as his lawsuit continues, that the lie will be revealed. Shirvell, who will represent himself in court, said he intends to receive money from Gordon to compensate for the economic damage he has experienced since losing his job. He estimates the compensation will be in the range of six to seven figures.
Shirvell, who is currently unemployed and living in New York, said he believes Armstrong and Gordon have “tried to destroy him in any way possible.” Shirvell said he hopes to tell his side of the story and fight for his own justice by filing this lawsuit.
“The one thing that they can’t take away from me is my dignity,” Shirvell said. “I didn’t commit wrong here. The wrongdoers here are Deborah Gordon and Chris Armstrong, and their impact on my life in the past year has been substantial.”
Gordon said the lawsuit Shirvell filed against her will not affect her representation of Armstrong in his case against Shirvell. Last week, the judge presiding over Armstrong v. Shirvell denied Shirvell’s motion to dismiss the claims against him and advised Shirvell to seek legal counsel as he was “too emotional about the case.”
Gordon added that she isn’t concerned about the lawsuit against her, and she doesn’t feel neither she nor Armstrong is responsible for the damages Shirvell experienced.
“(Shirvell) is by far his own worst enemy,” Gordon said. “He has created nothing but problems for himself. He lied about Chris Armstrong, and he apparently lied to the attorney general, and he lost his job. Now, the Attorney Grievance Commission is considering taking his law license away, and none of that is his fault, according to him.”
Gordon said she will ask the judge to order Shirvell to appear for the second day of deposition this Thursday. Even with the new lawsuit, Gordon said Armstrong’s case against Shirvell is proceeding strongly.
“All we ever wanted was for him to retract the statements he made about Chris, which were such blatant lies, but he won’t,” Gordon said. “We have to set the record straight, so we’re going to continue to pursue the suit against him.”