In the next issue of Wisconsin Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine, out in November, Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer Dennis P. Coffey of Mawicke & Goisman, talks about what he's learned from his more than 400 jury trials. In this blog-exclusive portion of the Q&A, Coffey, below, talks about the number of regular citizens who may soon find themselves part of criminal proceedings ...
What are some of the big changes in your practice area in the last year?
How do I put this? I think there are a lot of people who are in danger of criminal prosecution or regulatory proceedings that just never thought of it, weren't going there. There are a lot of issues that are going to arise out of the economic problems that nobody's really sat down to think about. The banking industry, subprime mortgages, mortgage fraud, bankers who were not abiding by FDIC regulations in terms of approving loans: There's this whole panoply in terms of criminal laws and regulatory matters.
During the bubble, lending officers and loan officers, hell, they were handing out money like it was a drive-through. That means they weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing. I don't think it's going to shake out for another three or four years. The real repercussions of this aren't going to start being felt for some period of time.
OK, so there's the subprime thing and the bad mortgages. Sooner or later, someone is going to start looking at bankers. There are all those people who benefited by millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, and the government sooner or later is going to have time to look at it. If I had to project into the next five years? I think it's really going to be a matter of cleaning up after that parade.
When you mentioned people who never thought of being part of a criminal proceeding, were you talking mostly bankers?
Anyone in the real estate business. And it's not just the real estate industry. I should be clear about that. But it's like the old refrain: "Everybody's doing it." Well everybody is doing it in various industries. Hell, people are still dumping sludge where they're not supposed to dump sludge.
Then there are some creative guys out there. I don't know if you've heard of the Apple stores in China that aren't?
Oh, it's spectacular! Some guy went and opened a store selling Apple products. Only it wasn't licensed by Apple, it wasn't franchised, and they were Apple knock-off stuff. China just busted him.
The whole identify theft thing. The government last week announcing a cyber war plan because people kept getting into the defense department computers. That's gonna be huge.
A bunch of kids outside Chicago went online and ordered fake IDs from China. And they were really, really good fake IDs.
To get drinks?
To get into bars. And ICE, Immigration Customs Enforcement, they caught the stuff being mailed to these kids. So the kids ended up getting citations for the violation. They didn't prosecute them. But these kids were smart enough to go to China to get the really good IDs, and the agents are talking about how they had the watermarks, they had everything they needed to look legit.
All of which bodes well for my practice, I guess. I'm not complaining.