After 3-minute hearing, Police Chief's lawyer has 30 days to submit appeal brief

Hearing for oral arguments set for September


During a 3-minute court hearing on Friday, a deadline was set for the submission of a brief appealing a 30-day jail sentence handed down last month to Sidney Police Chief B.J. Wilkinson.

Attorney Thomas Sonntag, who is representing Wilkinson, now has 30 days to submit a written document appealing the jail term ordered by County Court Judge Paul Wess after Wilkinson pleaded no contest to a single misdemeanor charge of obstructing governmental operations was excessive.

Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Doug Warner, who has been appointed a special prosecutor in the case, will then have one week to respond.

A hearing was also set for Monday, Sept. 28 at 9:30 a.m. for the attorneys to each make additional comments.

Wilkinson did not appear in court on Friday.

The chief of police entered his no contest plea on July 17, and Wess ruled the police chief was to begin serving the sentence in the Cheyenne County Jail on Monday. In the week following the sentencing, however, Wilkinson posted a $500 appeal bond and filed a motion challenging the sentence, delaying any possible jai term until the appeal process is completed.

Twelfth Judicial District Judge of the District Court Travis O’Gorman presided over Friday’s appeal hearing.

Cheyenne County District Court Judge Derek Weimer recused himself from the proceedings to avoid any perceived conflict of interest since Sidney Police Department officers regularly appear before him, a court document stated.

Sidney City Manager Gary Person in late July said the city would not comment on the case until a final decision was handed down. Wilkinson has been on paid administrative leave since late July.

The case against Wilkinson stems from an incident that occurred 1 1/2 years ago. According to court testimony and documents, Wilkinson blocked a citation that had been issued to a high-ranking city official. A subsequent Nebraska State Patrol investigation turned up an email Wilkinson had written in 2014 in which he admitted to pulling the paperwork and not sending the file to the county attorney’s office.


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