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Federal defamation trial results in $4.5 million verdict

On one side, Christopher Armstrong, an openly gay former University of Michigan student body president, claimed that a series of blog attacks and stalking incidents from a then-assistant attorney general was defamatory, and constituted invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. On the other side, defendant Andrew Shirvell, who represented himself, maintained he was within his First Amendment rights to say what he did about Armstrong’s supposed “radical homosexual agenda.” A federal court jury found that Shirvell was wrong and his actions were enough to merit $4.5 million in damages.