October 1st, 2010
09:42 PM ET

Mich. Asst. AG takes voluntary leave: Join the live chat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight on 360, the Michigan Assistant Attorney General who's been targeting a gay University of Michigan student has taken a voluntary leave of absence. We'll have the latest. And closing arguments were made today in the chilling Connecticut home invasion case. We'll have what was said today in court as well as legal minds Jeffrey Toobin and Sonny Hostin to talk about punishment and the death penalty.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

Filed under: Live Blog
October 1st, 2010
08:39 PM ET

Evening Buzz: MI Asst. AG with blog on gay student takes leave of absence

Cate Vojdik
AC360° Writer

There’s a major development tonight in a story we’ve been following closely. Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has taken a leave of absence and will face a disciplinary hearing when he returns. That’s the official word from his employer.

Just three nights ago, Shirvell was on our program defending the blog he’s been using to attack college student Chris Armstrong, the first openly gay president of the Michigan Student Assembly. Shirvell accuses Armstrong of promoting a radical homosexual agenda and has acknowledged protesting outside of Armstrong's house and calling him "Satan's representative on the student assembly."

Wednesday night on 360, Shirvell’s boss, Attorney General Mike Cox, defended the assistant AG’s constitutional right to wage the internet campaign against Armstrong, even though he said he considers Shirvell a bully.

Last night, we reported that Armstrong has filed for a personal order of protection against Shirvell, alleging harassment. Shirvell has also been issued a no trespass warning by the University of Michigan.

The question is, when did Attorney General Cox first learn about the protection order filing and the no trespass warning? So far, he’s been resisting calls to dismiss Shirvell, insisting he doesn’t have the grounds to do so, under civil service rules. Keeping them honest, we’ll be looking closer tonight at the timeline. We’ll tell you what we’ve been learning about Andrew Shirvell.

We’ll also have the latest in the Connecticut triple murder trial. Closing arguments wrapped up today, bringing weeks of heart-wrenching and horrifying testimony to a close. Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters were tortured and killed in a 2007 home invasion. Her husband was badly beaten but survived. Steven Hayes is the first of two suspects to go on trial and could be sentenced to death if convicted. His lawyer has argued that the other suspect was responsible for escalating the violence. Could his defense strategy work? Senior legal analyst and former prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin weighs in.

Plus, rogue waves. For years, scientist denied these massive ocean swells even existed. In her new book, “The Wave” author Susan Casey reveals the truth about these magnificent monsters – some as tall as 17-hundred feet high – and the world-class surfers who are hell-bent on riding them. Casey and legendary big wave surfer Laird Hamilton join Anderson for the Big 360 Interview.

See you at 10 p.m. eastern.

Filed under: Cate Vojdik • The Buzz
October 1st, 2010
06:19 PM ET

Beat 360° 10/1/10

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

President Barack Obama hugs outgoing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel after announcing his departure from the West Wing in the East Room of the White House October 1, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Adam Noboa
“No more d-rahm-a”


Wyatt Knight, New York
"After the embrace, Rahm grabbed 2 beers and bolted out a secret emergency slide.'"

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
October 1st, 2010
03:15 PM ET

Closing arguments made in Connecticut home invasion case

Swetha Iyengar
In Session

(CNN) - Closing arguments were made Friday in the trial of Steven Hayes, the man accused of killing three members of a Connecticut family in a 2007 home invasion.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations as early as midday Monday.

Hayes, 47, who has entered a plea of not guilty, is currently on trial in New Haven, Connecticut, for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters.

The killings took place in the New Haven suburb of Cheshire in the early hours of July 23, 2007. The home of Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and two daughters was invaded in the middle of the night by Hayes and co-defendant Joshua Komisarjevsky, prosecutors say.

Komisarjevsky will be tried separately.

Prosecutor Michael Dearington laid out an elaborate timeline of events, fully implicating both Hayes and Komisarjevsky in the gruesome killings.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
October 1st, 2010
01:04 PM ET

Michigan employee with blog on gay student takes leave of absence

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell - who for nearly six months has blogged about an openly gay college student - has taken a voluntary leave of absence, the state's attorney general's office confirmed to CNN Friday.

Related video: Blog targets gay college student

The office does not know the length of Shirvell's leave, but says that it will hold a disciplinary hearing upon his return.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Mike Cox defended his assistant's constitutional right to wage the internet campaign against Chris Armstrong, even though he said he considers Shirvell a "bully."

Related: Michigan attorney general defends employee's right to blog

"Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and engage in political and social speech," Cox told Anderson Cooper on CNN's "AC 360" on Wednesday night. "He's clearly a bully ... but is that protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution? Yes."

"Mr. [Andrew] Shirvell is sort of a frontline grunt assistant prosecutor in my office," Cox said. "He does satisfactory work and off-hours, he's free to engage under both our civil service rules, Michigan Supreme Court rulings and the United States Supreme Court rule."

But Gov. Jennifer Granholm disagreed. Late Thursday she tweeted, "If I was still attorney general and Andrew Shirvell worked for me, he would have already been fired."

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Bullying • Gay & Lesbian Issues
October 1st, 2010
12:44 PM ET

Letters to the President: #620 'Hello out there'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama and the Democrats are trying to sort out how to handle the upcoming elections as they fan out across the country in the next few weeks, and the Republicans are doing the same. Meanwhile, I find myself looking beyond the city limits too…way beyond.

Dear Mr. President,

One of the biggest problems here in Washington (I mean, beyond the economy, the deficit, and the relentless aversion to cooperation) is that too many people here seem to think that this is the only place that really matters on the planet. Sometimes, when I get away from the political pages that I read all day, I am astounded at how much else is going on in the world, and frankly, beyond it.

Like this story about how scientists have found a planet where they think there is almost certainly other life. After Tang and the Planet of the Apes, isn’t this what we’ve been looking for all those years out there? Shouldn’t there be some kind of wild fanfare and a special presidential commission instantly formed to dispatch a delegation? And yet I have heard not even a rumble of excitement from the DC crowd over this.

Admittedly maybe this new planet’s name is the problem: Gliese 581g. That’s not much of a tag for an interplanetary wonder. If I were on the case I would have named it something like Astronomus or Cosmoreten or maybe VicTabackia. Heck, if you’re sending a team, why not claim it for yourself, with something like “Obamiter”?

October 1st, 2010
11:24 AM ET

Student's suicide linked to webcast of sexual encounter

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://www.cnn.com/video/us/2010/09/29/ricks.nj.clementi.suicide1.cnn.640×360.jpg caption="Clementi's roommate is believed to have sent a message about the encounter on Twitter." width=300 height=169]

CNN Wire Staff

New York (CNN) - On the evening of September 19, Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi is believed to have sent a message by Twitter about his roommate, Tyler Clementi.

"Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."

Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, New Jersey, surreptitiously placed the camera in their dorm room and broadcast video of Clementi's sexual encounter on the internet, the Middlesex County prosecutor's office said. Ravi tried to use the webcam again two days later, on September 21.

"Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again," Ravi is believed to have tweeted.

The next day, Clementi was dead.

Full story

Related: Rutgers student remembered as dedicated musician

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
October 1st, 2010
10:52 AM ET
October 1st, 2010
10:45 AM ET
October 1st, 2010
10:00 AM ET

Whitman's husband says it's 'possible' he saw Social Security letter

Alan Duke

Los Angeles, California (CNN) - The husband of Meg Whitman, California's Republican nominee for governor, said "it was possible" he saw a 2003 letter that questioned his housekeeper's Social Security number, but he insisted it did not make him suspect she was an undocumented worker.

Dr. Griffith Harsh's acknowledgment came several hours after he stood next to Whitman as she told reporters neither of them saw the letter.

The reversal followed lawyer Gloria Allred's release of a letter with a note to the housekeeper, which she said was Harsh's handwriting.

Allred called it "the smoking gun or smoking document" that showed the couple knew their housekeeper for nine years, Nicky Diaz Santillan, was working illegally in the United States.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar
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