As former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak's bankruptcy fraud trial approaches, prosecutors are seeking to keep many of their motions out of the public eye.
Even the prosecution's motion to seal its motions is sealed, although U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has not ruled on the issue.
Bujak, who is serving as his own defense attorney, filed a motion opposing sealing the documents.
The U.S. attorney filed six motions in the case this past week and sealed all but one: a motion to prevent Bujak using "hearsay" when he cross-examines witnesses, which would allow him to basically testify without taking the stand.
Federal prosecutors said Bujak used that tactic while representing himself in trials in state court, questioning witnesses with sentences such as: "Isn't it true that during that meeting I told you that after all the expenses were paid the money left over is mine to do with as I please?"
Bujak stood trial in state court four times in 2012 and 2013, with all but one of those trials related to allegations he illegally diverted money for his personal use from a contract to prosecute Nampa misdemeanors with Canyon County resources. Two juries acquitted him; two others were unable to agree on a verdict.
Unlike in state court, Bujak will not have public defenders on hand to back him up when his federal trial begins May 6. If he chooses to testify, he will need to make his two roles distinct by asking himself questions, then answering them.
Bujak faces six federal felonies, including bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets, making a false statement under oath, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The charges stem from allegations that he failed to disclose a Rolex watch on a list of assets when he filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said Friday that she couldn't discuss the specific reasoning behind sealing the motions in Bujak's trial, noting that such discussion would "defeat the purpose."
But generally, Olson said, the purpose of keeping specific pretrial documents away from the media and public is "to not pretry the case ... to not have evidence that is going to be produced at trial be made public before it is actually produced at trial, and to protect the privacy of victims and witnesses."
In his motion opposing the move, Bujak wrote, "There is nothing in the record to support a finding by the court that pretrial publicity caused by the government's motions in limine would deprive the defendant of his right to a fair trial."
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447