Granted Motion Unseals Gardner Trial Records

A motion filed on behalf of the Falls Church News-Press to have transcripts of a Dec. 20 hearing in the trial of City resident Michael Gardner made open to the public and the press was granted today in Arlington Circuit Court. Gardner is accused of molesting three girls who attended a slumber party for his daughter last summer.

News media lawyer Alice Neff Lucan, representing the News-Press, argued that having details of the trial sealed “puts the newspaper and the public … at an unfair disadvantage.” Her argument was supported by Peter Greenspun, Gardner’s attorney.

The Dec. 20 hearing and previous hearings in the case have been open to the public.

Judge William T. Newman Jr., who signed an emergency order to seal the transcripts last month at the request of Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Nicole Wittmann, presided over the hearing.

Newman said that he had not been involved in the case prior to signing the order and that, upon further review, he determined that the record should not be sealed.

He said the courts would make the documents available, but would redact the names of the alleged victims and information about their schools.