Canyon County commissioners and other key players in the misuse of public funds case against John Bujak may be called as witnesses in a related case that goes to trial next week -- but only if Bujak uses them to impeach the testimony of his accusers, 3rd District Judge Molly Huskey ruled Wednesday.
Bujak , a former Canyon County prosecutor charged with illegally taking $236,000 from a city prosecution contract, will serve as his own attorney when his trial begins Tuesday on charges he falsified evidence in the original case.
He issued a flurry of subpoenas to compel all three county commissioners, his successor as Canyon prosecutor and others he has accused of unfairly going after him. Special Prosecutor Shelley Akamatsu from the Ada County Prosecutors Office sought to quash many of those subpoenas, with mixed success.
Judge Huskey agreed with Akamatsu that the commissioners and others dont seem to have a role in the case at hand, which concerns a document that was faxed to the prosecutor in Bujaks misuse of public funds case a document Bujak is accused of falsifying in order to tilt the case in his favor.
Bujak insisted he wasnt planning on the commissioners as witnesses in his defense but wants to make sure they are available in case other witnesses say things that contradict commissioners past statements. Huskey said she would allow the subpoenas to stay in place, but Bujak cannot call the commissioners unless he first cleared it with the judge when the jury was not in the courtroom.
Huskey did overrule Bujaks plan to subpoenas for Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor and Deputy Prosecutor Michael Porter, but said fresh subpoenas could be issued if they are needed as impeachment witnesses.
Porter, who appeared in court to oppose his subpoena and Taylors, worried aloud that Bujaks effort to include county officials as witnesses could steer this trial to issues he raised in the first trial that prosecutor and judge agree are inappropriate for this one
Bujak has repeatedly asserted that commissioners approved his profiting from a Nampa contract, then lied about it to use him as a scapegoat in an unpopular situation.
Porter, who has handled many issues regarding Bujak, said his experience leads him to believe Bujaks potential for misleading the jury is huge, which could divert the trial away from Bujaks alleged evidence-falsification and instead focus on nullification and bad actions from the county.
Akamatsu also expressed concern that calling county officials could lead to jury nullifaction, which is when jurors find a defendant not guilty despite believing he committed the acts hes accused of.
The jury in Bujaks misuse of public funds case deadlocked in November, and a second trial is scheduled for March. The special prosecutor in that case has asked the judge to keep Bujak from deflecting blame onto commissioners, and Bujak has said a member of that hung jury told him he would have voted to convict the county commissioners if they had been charged.