Former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujaks first trial on a charge of misusing public funds ended with a hung jury, and the special prosecutors aim to keep Bujak from repeating some of his defense tactics when the case goes to a second jury next month.
Bujak, who is serving as his own defense counsel, also has a pair of motions asking the judge to limit prosecution tactics.
Senior District Judge G.D. Carey made no rulings at Tuesdays hearing but took all of the motions under advisement. Carey presided over Bujaks first trial last fall and is scheduled to open the second trial March 11.
Bill Thompson, the Latah County prosecutor tapped to handle the case against Bujak, asked Carey to prohibit Bujak from basically testifying under the cover of closing arguments.
Bujak did not choose to testify as a witness, which would have opened him to cross-examination. But Thompson contends that the ex-prosecutor essentially testified during closing arguments, making factual representations to the jury that were not in the record.
Bujak responded that any attorney in closing argument can draw inferences or ask the jury to consider things that might be theoretical.
Prosecutors also aim to prevent Bujak from deflecting the jurys attention from his actions to those of the county commissioners who authorized him to enter a Nampa prosecution contract and put the proceeds in a trust account that only he could access.
To argue, why me and not them would be improper, prosecution co-counsel Stephen Bywater said.
Bujak responded that jurors from his first trial told him they would have found commissioners guilty had they been on trial. He said he believes the case against him is selective prosecution but he will not argue that to the jury.
Thompson also asked the judge to prohibit Bujak from claiming that commissioners approved his taking profit from the contract to use county resources to handle Nampa misdemeanors, but did so without meeting the requirements of the Idaho Open Meeting Law.
Commissioners have testified they didnt know Bujak planned to take any money from the contract until late spring of 2010, nearly a year after the contract began. Evidence shows Bujak began transferring contract money from the trust account to his personal account the same day Nampas first check was deposited.
Bujak says commissioners knew all along he intended to profit and approved of that plan as long as contract expenses were met. But Thompson said that even if Bujak could prove commissioners gave him unofficial approval, the then-prosecutor would have known he had no legal authority to take the money.
Bujak responded that he shouldnt be kept from arguing that the permission was given even if it wasnt given in the right way. And he contended that county commissioners could open themselves to civil or criminal penalties by testifying in his trial.
The two Bujak defense motions considered at Tuesdays hearing seek to keep the special prosecutors from offering evidence that Bujak violated professional standards or spelling out how Bujak spent the six-figure profit he derived from the Nampa contract.
Bywater contended that how Bujak spent the $236,000 hes accused of illegally taking is specifically and directly relevant to the elements of the offense.
Bujak disagreed, saying it really serves no other purpose than to inflame the jury. He mentioned that some of the Nampa contract money went to private education for his son and medical expenses for his then-wife.
The former prosecutor began his comments Tuesday by urging the judge to show flexibility in his rulings, since the evidence, witnesses and arguments in the second trial may be different than during the first trial, and rulings based on the first trial could hinder responding to new developments. Carey gave no indication when he might rule on the various motions.