Further pretrial filings in the Jack Gillean case will be sealed, Circuit Judge Charles “Ed” Clawson ruled on Friday.
Gilliean has pleaded not guilty to counts of felony commercial burglary and insurance fraud and a misdemeanor for an allegedly false financial statement. The allegations came in 2012, after Gillean resigned as chief of staff for the University of Central Arkansas when a UCA investigation found evidence that Gillean had allowed certain students to use a “master key” to access university offices, where they allegedly looked at professors’ tests and, in one instance, stole prescription medicine.
Gillean’s attorneys, Sam Perroni, Nikki Niccolo and Tim Dudley, claim in a motion asking to seal the case that local prosecutors “made inflammatory statements, commented on the evidence and intentionally leaked inflammatory material for the specific purpose of trying [Gillean] in the media ... [and that] many of the State’s responses to motions filed to date were more in the nature of press releases rather than legal pleadings designed to address the issues.” The motion also suggests that Deputy Prosecutor Troy Braswell’s request that Gillean give a sample for drug testing was made soley that “his motion would be recorded in the press.”
Perroni said in an interview on Monday that he didn’t wish to comment beyond what was included in the motion, but did say that Judge Clawson “has been very diligent in trying to make sure that this trial is a fair trial for both sides, and that the jury gets to decide this trial based on the evidence and not newspaper headlines.”
Gillean’s trial is set for March 10 in Van Buren County. Gillean’s attorneys successfully moved to have the trial removed to Van Buren County after arguing that media coverage had contaminated the local juror pool.
The order sealing the proceedings expires at the close of trial, at which point the press and public will have access to whatever information was sealed.