BOISE — The Idaho Supreme Court has sided with a Nampa man fighting to get the contract of a former county prosecutor declared public, in a ruling issued Thursday.
Newly elected city council member Bob Henry called the decision from the high court a significant victory. Henry has long sought access to financial records and other documents related to Canyon County's contract with former prosecutor John Bujak.
The complicated case centers around the agreement Bujak had with the county to prosecute misdemeanor cases for the city of Nampa.
A district court judge previously ruled the records were private and not subject to Idaho's public records law. But the Idaho Supreme Court disagreed and ruled the documents were public records, the Idaho Press-Tribune.
Bujak resigned in September 2010 amid a dispute involving nearly $300,000 the county says he owes. He was arrested last month and arraigned on a charge of grand theft by embezzlement and grand theft by deception.
Bujak has since been released from jail and has to wear an electronic device on his ankle.
A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 25.
"My goal in pursuing the appeal was to establish case law that help prevent future misuses of public funds," said Henry, who was not awarded attorney fees.
During arguments before the high court, county attorney Carl Erickson said officials had already turned over all the documents it has about the contract.
County officials say that more than $734,000 was put into a trust account to cover 15 months of prosecution work, and they contended that Bujak spent more than $300,000 for his own personal expenses. Bujak resigned over the controversial contract, saying he didn't have the money to pay back the $300,000.
The high court ruled financial documents relating to payments Bujak received for services his office provided to the city of Nampa should have been available for public scrutiny. Bryan Taylor replaced Bujak as Canyon County prosecutor and said the decision was also a win for local government officials.
"One of my primary objectives since I have been appointed as the prosecutor is to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again," Taylor said. "Politics and law make uneasy bedfellows and that is a lesson my administration has taken to heart."