Former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak's trial on charges that he falsified evidence came to an abrupt halt Friday when the judge declared a mistrial based on Bujaks actions, and the special prosecutor said she intends to file a contempt charge against him.
The case felony charges of falsifying evidence and computer crime is a spin-off of the initial charge against Bujak, misusing $236,000 in public funds from a contract to use county resources to prosecute Nampa misdemeanors. And, like the public funds case (which ended in a hung jury in November), this one appears headed for a second trial.
Special Prosecutor Shelley Akamatsu said she plans to file a motion next week to charge Bujak with contempt for intentional violation of the courts orders and rules. Also next week the judge, defense and prosecution will work to set a new trial date which may come after the public funds retrial, which is set to begin March 11.
In declaring the mistrial Friday, 3rd District Judge Molly Huskey concluded Bujak deliberately steered the case toward mistrial because he didnt want the false-evidence case to be resolved before the public funds case goes back to trial.
Bujak would not directly respond to the judges statement, telling the Statesman, I have my own opinion, but I dont think it matters and I dont want to say anything to show disrespect for the court.
I would have been happy to continue with this trial, he said. This could have been another case behind me, one way or another.
Of three felony cases pressed against Bujak in the past 14 months, the only one that has been resolved is a grand theft charge concerning his handling of an estate when he was in private practice before becoming a county prosecutor. A jury found him not guilty in November. Bujak acted as his own attorney in all three trials.
Akamatsu said she asked for a mistrial in the false-evidence case because Bujak planned to introduce testimony that contradicted the prosecutions case but had not been revealed in the required discovery process although Bujak had known about it since January. Bujak submitted supplemental discovery information on Feb. 14, she said, without mentioning that his witness would say that the document found on a computer in Bujaks home was different than the one faxed anonymously to the special prosecutor in the public funds case.
In a prepared statement he posted on Facebook and sent to reporters, Bujak said he tactically believed that I had a right not to fully disclose materials requested in discovery; however, the special prosecutor felt disadvantaged.
The judge determined that lack of disclosure constituted misconduct . Bujak said he respects the judges decision and apologizes to the judge, Akamatsu and the jury that spent two days on the case.
The court could have opted to continue the trial without testimony from Bujaks expert witness, but Akamatsu said it would not be ethical to proceed without letting the jury know about the expert opinion. In a retrial, she said, she will be able to prepare a case against Bujak that responds to the defense experts opinion.