Joe Paulus Forced to Resign From Law Firm

March 12, 2004
By Jerry Burke

A former Winnebago County district attorney has been forced to quit a well-known law firm. Well-known criminal defense attorney Jerry Boyle confirmed to Action 2 News that he forced Joe Paulus to leave his firm.

Boyle says he did so after confronting Paulus about allegations against the former D.A. that are apparently about to come to a head. As Action 2 News first reported 18 months ago, the FBI and Justice Department are investigating Paulus for questionable practices involving drunken-driving cases while he was district attorney.

Those allegations caused Paulus to lose a re-election bid. Paulus has long maintained he did nothing wrong, calling the allegations a witch hunt.

Here is what we know for certain:

  • Joe Paulus has been forced out of the Boyle law firm
  • Paulus is suddenly moving his family out of the state
  • Paulus has Franklyn Gimbel, a prominent Milwaukee criminal defense attorney, representing him.

Neighbors of Paulus say there was a large U-Haul truck at the home Thursday and by Thursday night the house was dark.

Friday morning, his now-former boss, Jerry Boyle, stopped short of saying why he forced Paulus to quit. Boyle said had Paulus not quit, he would have fired him.

He said the situation prompted Paulus to suddenly to move his family out of state.

"I would never, ever think of being in his shoes," said Boyle, "because of what he's going through now is hell on earth."

Boyle said he knows what Paulus is facing did not happen while he was with Boyle's law firm. "Whatever it was happened long before he became a member of my firm-- when he was district attorney, as I understand it," Boyle said.

"My understanding of the situation is, it was a question of favors, and if that's the reality of it, he shouldn't have done it and if he did it and he's found guilty of it, he should suffer the consequences of the law," he said.

Paulus has been under investigation for allegedly reducing drunk driving offenses if offenders made cash contributions to what some called a questionable crime prevention fund.

Boyle said the events are taking a toll on Paulus. "I can only equate it with somebody that has been arrested for drunken driving and they find out they've killed somebody. It's that kind of a state of anguish that he's in right now."

Paulus has always maintained he was never contacted by the FBI or Justice Department, but his attorney told our reporter, Jerry Burke, he's been representing Paulus for about two years.

"There's been an investigation ongoing and I've represented him during the course of that. That's about as much as I can say." ," Gimbel told us.

Boyle said Paulus told him he expects to be charged shortly. "I kind of think that he's resigned to something happening, and, if that's the case, he knows full well that he did the right thing in resigning from my law firm."

Gimbel said that he doesn't expect any significant developments for about two weeks. That matches what Boyle told us.

The Justice Department told us it will make no comment unless charges are filed against someone.

Boyle said he's deeply disappointed Paulus wasn't candid with him about his past before hiring him. "Had I had any inkling that was a probability rather than a possibility, obviously I would have not taken him on."

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