Gillean files appeal on burglary convictions; state's brief due in January

Originally published Dec. 23, 2014 in the Log Cabin Democrat | Link to article

In former University of Central Arkansas Chief of Staff Jack Gillean’s appeal, the former campus administrator points to certain items of allowed evidence as potential errors during his trial earlier this year.

Gillean, 58, was found guilty on six counts of commercial burglary in Van Buren County Circuit Court in March. He was sentenced to three years in prison, ordered to pay $35,000 in fines and given 10 years of probation.

His 723-page appellant’s brief was filed Dec. 16 in the Arkansas Court of Appeals, according to the Arkansas CourtConnect database.

Timothy Dudley, one of Gillean’s trial attorneys, raised the following legal challenges in his jurisdictional statement:

• Rule 403 (exclusion of certain forms of evidence) as it relates to three items of admitted evidence;

• Whether Gillean’s Fifth Amendment rights were “violated by the admission of his refusal to explain accusations”;

• Whether the court in Van Buren County wrongly denied Gillean’s motion for directed verdict on the “felony theft element of burglary and the value, deprivation and property elements of the predicate theft offense”;

• Lack of notice that Gillean’s acts were criminal in nature;

• The admissibility of “improper evidence” during his trial March 10-12.

Gillean’s attorneys argue in the brief that the trial court “abused its discretion by admitting evidence that the appellant had sexual relations with a male prosecution witness” and by “admitting evidence that [the] appellant drank alcohol with UCA students.”

Sam Perroni, another Gillean attorney, told the Log Cabin in November that portions of the trial were “sensational” and “unfairly prejudicial.”

Cameron Stark, a former UCA student who was granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation in the trial, broke into the offices of UCA professors in 2011 using Gillean’s “grand master key.”He spoke at the trial, explaining his initial encounter with Gillean and the events leading up to Gillean’s resignation.

Judge Charles E. Clawson Jr. allowed trial testimony from Ryan Scott, which detailed sexual details of the relationship Gillean had with Scott. The prosecution argued that the witness, Scott, was “privy to intimate conversations between [Appellant] and Cameron Stark related to keys and the stealing of exams.”

Evidence of alcohol and drug consumption with UCA students was also mentioned during the trial. Gillean’s attorneys state in the appeal brief that the case offered “no evidence or contention by the prosecution that alcohol played any part whatsoever in Appellant’s alleged criminal conduct.”

The prosecution presented text messages containing exchanges about marijuana, which was explained on the last day of Gillean’s trial.

Among other points in the appeal is “permitting testimony that appellant [Gillean] refused to give an explanation when confronted by UCA officials armed with police allegations that his university keys were given to a student for the purpose of stealing tests.”

Gillean met with UCA President Tom Courtway to discuss a conversation the former UCA chief of staff had with UCAPD during the investigation. An internal investigation at the university corroborated that the “grand master key” in question for burglaries in offices on campus was not stolen.

Courtway testified March 11 that during a meeting with Gillean and Graham Gillis, UCA associate vice president of human relations, Gillean did not want to hear the recorded interview or read the transcript.

The conversation, according to Courtway, ended with Gillean saying he would resign.

Gillean remains free on bond pending appeal. The deadline for the appellee’s brief from the state of Arkansas is set for Jan. 15, 2015.