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College of Law, legal community mourn passing of Charles A. Pulaski Jr.

June 25, 2012

Charles A. Pulaski Jr., a former faculty member at the College of Law and senior tax partner at Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, died on June 21, following a lengthy illness. He was 70.

Pulaski had a distinguished career from 1980 to 1986 at ASU and, before that, as a law professor at the University of Iowa. ASU law professor Robert Bartels taught with Pulaski at Iowa, where each taught large sections of first-year students in two classrooms connected by a door. The pair often competed for laughs from students, door open.

“He did disgustingly well,” recalled Bartels, the Charles M. Brewer Professor of Trial Advocacy at the College of Law.

When Pulaski interviewed at Iowa, Bartels remembered one of his colleagues remarking, “He was great, but we are going to have to rough off some of the smooth edges.” Reflecting on his longtime friend’s life, Bartels noted: “The smooth edges never got roughed off.”

In addition to being a fine teacher, Pulaski was a dedicated scholar. In 1983, he co-authored a study examining the presence of racial discrimination in death penalty sentencing. Bartels called it “one of those truly seminal pieces, the first really good study of its kind, which is still an influential model for how people study these kinds of issues.”

Dean Douglas Sylvester said he hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting Pulaski, “but he was obviously beloved by many, and his passing is a tremendous loss for his family, friends and the legal community. We are developing an appropriate way to honor him here at the College of Law, and details are forthcoming.”

Robert Clinton, the Foundation Professor of Law at the College of Law, also taught alongside Pulaski at Iowa in the 1970s.

“He was a superb professor, absolutely dedicated to students, teaching and scholarship,” Clinton said. “He was well-liked by everyone, and he had a very analytical mind. He gravitated from teaching criminal procedure at Iowa to tax at ASU, I think, because he liked the complexity of the tax code.”

Pulaski left academia in1986 to join Snell & Wilmer, where he was senior partner in the tax group at the time of his death. A substantial part of his practice was representing corporations, businesses and individuals in controversies with the IRS or state tax authorities.

But he continued on as an adjunct professor at the College of Law for many years.

John Bouma, chairman of Snell & Wilmer, said in an announcement, “Charlie led our tax group with acute intelligence, humor and sage counsel. He will be greatly missed by those of us fortunate to know him.”

Pulaski is survived by his wife, Linda, a daughter and son-in-law, and a grandson, Charlie. Details about memorial services are forthcoming.