The increase and fall of Winnebago County District Legal professional Joe Paulus reveals the immense ability of prosecutors – and how it can be abused

The increase and fall of Winnebago County District Legal professional Joe Paulus reveals the immense ability of prosecutors – and how it can be abused

Episode 2 Transcript

Bear in mind the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic? Way back again in 2020, when everybody was stocking up on hand sanitizer and rest room paper? That spring, Jerry Lingnofski was doing the job as the head salesman at a gun store. It experienced a acquire-one particular-get-one-free of charge unique — rifles with an unwrapped roll of bathroom paper on the barrel. 

But Lingnofski was not often in gun income. He made use of to operate in regulation enforcement in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley. 

Lingnofski had an important tale to convey to — one that he experienced recited under oath in a key court docket proceeding in 2005. But right before he agreed to an job interview, Lingnofski wished a Wisconsin Observe reporter to do some “research” — by obtaining a judge to dissolve a secrecy purchase of the transcript of his testimony.

It worked. And now Lingnofski, a retired detective for the City of Menasha Police Department, was all set to converse about the scenario that had put him sideways with former Winnebago County District Lawyer Joe Paulus.

“Amy Breyer was a attractive minor female, lived with her moms and dads at the mobile property park … Kelly Coon was a matter that we dealt with on and off for unique matters,” Lingnofski remembers. “And 1 night time, he kidnapped that younger child, sexually assaulted her and murdered her.”

In accordance to Lingnofski’s testimony, Paulus and a bigger-rating officer on the Menasha law enforcement force, Steve Malchow, experienced asked him to lie —in a weird way — about his look for of the location wherever Amy’s physique was uncovered.

Lingnofski says the two males wanted him to say he identified the child’s diaper although rolling all over on the ground, as a substitute of exactly where he had truly found it, in some bushes that scratched up his arms. 

The lie did not make any sense to Lingnofski, but he claims Paulus and Malchow insisted. Malchow accused him of not remaining “group participant,” he states, implying that he should really do what Paulus wanted — or be banned from using the stand in Coon’s trial. 

Lingnofski refused. And he under no circumstances did testify in the Coon situation. 

But it still left him with a long lasting impact of Paulus as a prosecutor — a gentleman who would later on go to jail for his dishonesty. 

Malchow is retired from the Outagamie County District Attorney’s Office, where he was an investigator for Biskupic. Malchow and Paulus did not respond to attempts to attain them by means of cellphone, e-mail and certified letter with lists of thoughts. 

Paulus a ‘Golden Boy’

Just before his downfall in 2004, Paulus was acknowledged as a flashy, difficult-charging district lawyer with a knack for prosecuting headline-grabbing conditions. 

“For the longest time, Joe was known as the Golden Boy,” claims Jerry Burke, a retired extensive-time Tv reporter for WBAY. “He could do no improper. …. Boy, glance at the convictions he’s obtaining. Very well, that was right before we knew some of the crap he was pulling below the desk.”

Paulus grew to become Winnebago County district lawyer in 1988 when he was just 29 yrs outdated. The younger DA hired an even more youthful assistant, Biskupic, who was clean out of legislation faculty. 

“Joe was his (Biskupic’s) mentor,” remembers Mike Balskus, a now-retired veteran Fox Valley prosecutor who investigated Paulus’ tenure and later on worked for Biskupic in neighboring Outagamie County. “Vince would comply with Joe all-around like a dog doggy. Essentially he would do what ever Joe desired. And I assume (he) also discovered from Joe.”

Burke, for his section, suggests a superior prosecutor is characterized by ethics, and “Vince (Biskupic) experienced ethics.”

In 1990, Paulus received one of Wisconsin’s initially no-entire body homicide convictions. In 1992, he received the initially conviction in the Fox Valley utilizing DNA proof. 

Paulus also prosecuted a person for allegedly sexually assaulting a lady who had what is now named dissociative identity problem. At the time, in 1990, the so-referred to as A number of Temperament Rape Situation acquired published up in newspapers such as the Washington Submit and The Baltimore Sun. 

But the judge overturned the conviction just 6 weeks just after trial, indicating he erred in stopping a protection expert’s evaluation of the alleged victim. Paulus’ victim-witness coordinator also found the star witness was possessing intercourse with the female, whom he understood had a mental disease — an action that bore a potent resemblance to the criminal offense charged against the defendant. 

‘You manufactured the suitable choice’

Jelinski is in personal follow now in Menasha. He started out doing work for Paulus in 2001, although he was even now in legislation school.

He describes Paulus as humorous — and from time to time, even sort. But, says Jelinski, “the majority of the time he put in participating in with persons just for his have amusement. And he was cruel. He was very cruel.”

He recalls Christmas Working day 2001 when Paulus named him 16 times. “And eventually, on the 16th time I answered,” Kelinski stated. “And he said, ‘I just preferred to make certain you were being considering about me on this crucial vacation, ha ha ha,’ click on.”