Canyon County claims its former prosecutor can afford to pay his own lawyers and has no rightful claim to the public defense that has so far cost the county nearly $56,000.
The defense says that John Bujak does qualify for publicly funded lawyers and that it will file documents supporting that claim. The issue was placed on hold at a hearing Friday.
The county contends that Bujak, granted a public defender during his divorce case last year, was not asked to reaffirm his poverty before that defender was appointed to represent him in the complex criminal case against him. Bujak, who resigned as prosecutor in September 2010, is charged with felony misuse of $236,000 in public funds.
Those charges stem from Canyon Countys contract to prosecute misdemeanors for the city of Nampa.
A county memorandum filed Thursday claims that Bujaks financial status appeared to change dramatically immediately after he was granted a public defender, and his lifestyle and bank records belie claims that he cant afford representation.
During the two months Mr. Bujaks indigent status was at issue, he received less than $700 a month into his account, the memorandum states. Subsequent to the appointment of counsel, he again began to receive between $4,000 and $7,000 a month into at least one account.
The county submits that Mr. Bujaks reliance on public representation is offensive to the U.S and Idaho constitutions and common sense.
The memo repeatedly mentions that Bujak lives in a home in Eagle leased by his girlfriend, according to other court records appraised at $403,000. Accompanying exhibits say the defendant lives a lifestyle antithetical to an indigency determination. The exhibit that details Bujaks bank records has not been publicly released.
Defense counsel Rolf Kehne said after the hearing that he could not make any public response to the countys allegations, but the defense would assert its side in an affidavit.
Attorneys on both sides have declined out-of-court comment since May, when Senior District Judge G.D. Carey imposed a gag order on the case at the defenses request.
Hes indigent, and we can prepare an affidavit in support of his indigency if the court would like another affidavit, lead defense counsel Nancy Callahan said during the hearing.
The motion to reconsider Bujaks public defender eligibility was filed by Canyon County prosecutors, but Carey said Friday that is improper because the criminal case is being handled by the Latah County prosecutor at Canyon Countys request.
The prosecuting attorney who declared a conflict and asked for an appointment has no power in this case, Carey said.
During a break, Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson agreed to take over that motion and another that challenges the cost of Bujaks defense team. But Canyon County asked for a continuance to support its standing to make the motions, and Carey took the issues under advisement.
Meanwhile, Callahan said she is concerned such issues are diverting her focus when she is a week away from the deadline to present pretrial motions in the misuse-of-public-funds case. Preparation of those motions will take a lot of time amid uncertainty over whether she will keep the case, she said.
Callahan is not part of the countys contracted public defender firm but was appointed because of the conflict presented by a case involving the countys former prosecutor. At this point, youre still ... public defender, Carey assured Callahan.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447