Crime

Judge rejects ex-Canyon prosecutor's effort to clear his record of lone conviction

Former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak served as his own attorney, successfully defending himself in several jury trials between 2012 and 2015.
Former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak served as his own attorney, successfully defending himself in several jury trials between 2012 and 2015. kjones@idahostatesman.com

John Bujak's 2013 contempt conviction, which he says is foiling his efforts to pursue a post-law career in the federal government, still stands, senior District Judge Michael McLaughlin ruled Monday.

The ruling surprised Bujak and pleased Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Shelley Akamatsu, who was special prosecutor for a falsifying evidence case against Bujak that ended in mistrial and his guilty plea to misdemeanor contempt.

Although Idaho law permits a judge to toss out a misdemeanor conviction if the defendant has satisfied his sentence — in this case, fines plus six months of probation — and committed no further crimes, it requires that there be “good cause” for that dismissal. And on that point, McLaughlin disagreed with Bujak’s assessment.

“This was so calculated, and it was so prejudicial to the proceedings ... I can’t find that there’s good cause to dismiss the charge,” the judge told Bujak, adding that he had the option to try again in the future, with a different judge.

Bujak said he hadn’t expected the ruling against him, so he hasn’t looked into what his future options might be. He is barred from practicing law until at least January 2020, when he can request reinstatement after a five-year voluntary suspension. That suspension ended an Idaho State Bar investigation of complaints about his conduct in the falsifying evidence case and other cases.

“I want to do the only other thing I can do to support my family,” he said in court Monday, adding that he wants to gain federal employment using the veteran’s preference he earned through military service. “I wouldn’t be here now if I wasn’t having trouble making ends meet.”

Those job options have included a historian’s post at Mountain Home Air Force Base and, he said earlier, an application to the Secret Service.

Bujak took office as Canyon County’s prosecutor in early 2009 and resigned 21 months later amid allegations that he improperly profited from a contract for his county office to handle misdemeanor cases for the city of Nampa. He stood trial five times between 2012 and 2014 on felony charges, and no jury found him guilty.

His only conviction came from his guilty plea to contempt for intentionally violating a judge’s discovery order. The ex-prosecutor had been charged with sending an anonymous fax in 2012 to the special prosecutor in his abuse-of-funds case, including an allegedly fake email to county commissioners from a supporter of Bujak’s who had since died.

Although he is no longer licensed to practice law, he represented himself “pro se” in court Monday.

Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447

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