Canyon County

Canyon road commissioner guilty of contempt after ‘willfully disobeying’ court order

Canyon County jail

Correction: This story has been updated from its original version to clarify that John McEvoy is currently in jail for a probation violation connected to a past criminal case.

Canyon Highway District Commissioner John McEvoy has been in jail since Friday after violating the terms of his probation on two misdemeanor convictions related to the unlawful junkyard on his property — coincidentally just days after a judge found him guilty of contempt in a lawsuit brought by neighbors.

McEvoy, who is in his fourth term, was last elected to Canyon Highway District No. 4 in May 2017, after he won with 53 percent of the vote. The day after he was re-elected, he was sentenced for two misdemeanors: maintaining a public nuisance and failing to obtain a required building permit. He was serving probation in that case.

The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office arrested McEvoy on a probation violation when he turned himself in at the jail on Friday.

He went to jail for the probation violation only days after a district judge found him in contempt for failing to clean up his problematic property and willfully violating a court order. In that case, he will face sentencing Thursday.

McEvoy owns a large property on North Kcid Road in rural Caldwell, where he has failed to comply with appropriate Canyon County codes and ordinances. Court records show that the property contains 75 to 125 vehicles, roughly 1,000 tires, and a variety of trailers, debris and trash.

Third District Judge Bradly Ford filed a written conclusion on April 29 finding McEvoy guilty of contempt in a civil case, the result of McEvoy’s lax efforts to clean up the property after a trial in March that stemmed from a lawsuit filed by McEvoy’s neighbors in 2015.

After those neighbors sued, mediation was ordered, and a judgment was issued in 2017 in which McEvoy agreed to bring the property into compliance within 18 months. A $100,000 penalty would be forgiven if McEvoy did just that, pursuant to the agreement. The deadline was September 2018, and by October 2018, his neighbors had filed a motion requesting that the judge hold McEvoy in contempt, arguing that he’d made almost no progress.

County officials found that McEvoy did not make a “good faith” effort to clean up the property after July 2017, and Judge Ford wrote in his findings last month that McEvoy “intentionally stalled bringing the property into compliance with relevant Canyon County ordinances and this court’s orders.”

The judge went on to write that “McEvoy simply continues to maintain an unauthorized junkyard and nuisance, contrary to the law and this court’s orders.”

Ford outlined that during the March trial, McEvoy denied being in contempt but did not present any evidence in his defense. He also did not present any written closing arguments to defend himself to the court.

Commissioner Rick Youngblood, chairman of Canyon Highway District No. 4, told the Statesman on Monday that he could not comment on McEvoy’s arrest, other than to say “we’re all disappointed and this is a personal issue” that McEvoy must deal with.

The next Canyon Highway District meeting is set for May 14, but there were no plans as of Monday to call for McEvoy’s resignation, Youngblood said.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.