Saturday, September 18, 2010

What is it with prosecuting attorneys this week?

While this isn't as bad as Kenneth Kratz, an attorney in the Michigan Attorney General's office is engaged in some deeply weird blogging. Clearly some public officials have too much free time.

Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Michigan, has a blog devoted to expressing his contempt of one gay person. I wrote that correctly, it is a blog dedicated to picking on one gay person. That person is University of Michigan Student Assembly president Chris Armstrong. Now, Mr. Shirvell doesn't like gay people, period. Still, the blog is really about one particular gay person. In fact, Mr. Shirvell has written 27 posts about one person. Who has the energy for that? Mr. Kratz or Ieshuh Griifin are going to have to make a lot more news before we come close to topping that figure.

Mr. Shirvell accuses this college student of being a “Nazi-like” recruiter to the “cult of homosexuality.” The analogy sort of breaks down when you consider that Nazi’s did not like homosexuals very much. Maybe less blogging about one gay student and more history study is in order. It certainly couldn't hurt.

The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct seem to discourage this sort of thing. Rule 6.5(a) says:

A lawyer shall treat with courtesy and respect all persons involved in the legal process. A lawyer shall take particular care to avoid treating such a person discourteously or disrespectfully because of the person’s race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic.
I suppose Mr. Shirvell has two explanations for why he is not violating the rule. One is that sexual orientation is not a “protected personal characteristic.” However, Michigan does prohibit some forms of sexual orientation discrimination. The other may be that Mr. Armstrong is not, as of yet, “involved in the legal process”. But, as the comment to Rule 6.5 notes:

A lawyer must take particular care to avoid words or actions that appear to be improperly based upon a person’s race, gender, or other protected personal characteristic. Legal institutions, and those who serve them, should take leadership roles in assuring equal treatment for all.
It’s probably fair to say that Mr. Shirvell is falling short of that ideal. His blog is certainly based on one protected personal characteristic. I suspect that homosexuals who have been victims of crimes would not want Mr. Shirvell involved in their case.

So what to make of Mr. Shirvell’s hobby? Given that no one likes a bully, it seems like Mr. Shirvell should get a new pastime. Especially since his boss does not like it. Of course, now that his boss is on the record as not liking it, Mr. Shirvell will have a First Amendment retaliation claim if he gets fired or disciplined in the near future. In any event, if he directed some of the energy he devotes to Mr. Armstrong towards model trains, I bet Mr. Shirvell could make something like this. At the very least, it would keep him off the computer.

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