Judge denies Shirvell request to seal deposition

Former assistant attorney general is being sued by Chris Armstrong

By Tara Cavanaugh

Last Wednesday a federal judge denied Andrew Shirvell's request to have his deposition sealed, reported the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press quoted the judge's four-page ruling: "Defendant argues that the alleged abuse, threats, and harassment by third parties, not involved in this litigation, are a basis for the Court to issue a protective order. The Court finds no merit in Defendant's argument. Defendant's failure to identify 'specific facts' showing 'clearly defined and serious injury' that would result from the discovery sought prevents the Court from exercising its discretion in granting the relief requested."

Shirvell's request for a protective order was denied as well.

Sealing a deposition means that the deposition would not be made public record. Depositions are rarely sealed from public access, and almost never in their entirety. It is more common for limited parts of a deposition to be sealed, such as in the case of a company's trade secrets.

Shirvell is being sued by Chris Armstrong for stalking, harassment and defamation of character. Last fall, Shirvell wrote a blog about Armstrong called "Chris Armstrong Watch" and protested what Shirvell called Armstrong's "radical homosexual agenda." He also appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 to defend his actions. Last year Armstrong was the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan Student Assembly; he graduated this spring.

Shirvell was eventually fired from his position after an investigation by the attorney general's office found that he used state computers to blog about Armstrong.

Armstrong filed his suit against Shirvell on April 1, and on May 6 Shirvell asked that the suit be dismissed and he filed a countersuit. In his countersuit, Shirvell alleges that Armstrong is to blame for losing his job with the state of Michigan.

Armstrong's lawyer, Deborah Gordon, responded to the Shirvell's most recent request in a filing: "Defendant sets forth zero legitimate basis for his highly unusual request to seal his deposition in its entirety. If embarrassment of a deponent was a criteria, virtually every deposition taken would be sealed.

"(Shirvell's) brief actually makes it crystal clear that of all people his deposition should not be sealed. It is riddled with false statements, fabrications, dramatic hyperbole, accusations against others, paranoia and delusions of victimization. Mr. Shirvell contends that he has never bullied Chris Armstrong, but rather that he is being bullied ... Shirvell's brief also reveals that (he) continues to monitor and obsess over (Armstrong's) activities to this day.

"Shirvell has had no problem publicly attacking (Armstrong) for all the world to hear and see, but now wants the truth or lack thereof behind his accusations to never see the light of day ... It is telling and bizarre that (Shirvell) believes he will be embarrassed or harmed by his own statements made under oath."

Shirvell now lives in New York. The Michigan Bar Association is investigating whether or not Shirvell should be disbarred from practicing law.

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