Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney Dennis Coffey: 'We are overpopulated by lawyers and we are overlegislated'

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Photo: Corey Hengen

In the latest issue of Wisconsin Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine, we sit down with Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer Dennis P. Coffey of Mawicke & Goisman. Here's a portion of the Q&A:

You've been practicing since 1972: What are some of the biggest changes you've seen in the law?
[Pause] Boy, I can get myself in a lot of trouble.

Please do.
I think we are overpopulated by lawyers and we are overlegislated. There are now 50 different titles within the United States criminal code, 23 thousand pages related to law violations; and Title XXI, which is just the drug/controlled substance sections, it's 130 pages long and has two basic crimes: trafficking and possession.

In Wisconsin, we must have 15 different varieties of battery. Battery is: You hit somebody, you intend to hurt them, and you don't have their consent. Pretty simple elements. Well, we now have battery to peace officer, battery to fire person, battery to juror, battery to ... It's like every profession has its own battery statute. Which is just crazy. Battery is battery. But every time there's a news story, a legislator decides, "Oh wait, we don't have a law that covers that." Well, you do. A judge sentencing someone who pops a police officer I guarantee you is going to look at that person as more evil than the guy who pops me. And he's going to build that evil into the sentence. And he's got more than enough room to do it.

So you don't need the legislator-
So you don't need me buying these books that keep getting thicker.

Here's a link to the full Q&A, "War Stories."

Previous Wisconsin Super Lawyers & Rising Stars Q&As: