Might they not fight as hard as they could for a client because they want to stay on good terms with the local ASAs?
An attorney has an ethical obligation to always act in the best interests of his or her client. Any relationship that the attorney may have with the assistant state's attorney is strictly professional and will not affect his or her ability to zealously represent you and your interests. Retaining an attorney or public defender can benefit you in many ways. An attorney or public defender can evaluate your case and the evidence against you, explore possible defenses, explain your options to you and answer your questions, and most importantly represent you in court.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this post is provided as a public service and is for general information purposes only. Nothing in this post should be treated as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This post and the information contained herein is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not create or constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you want advice or guidance that is specific to your situation or case, then you must privately consult with a private attorney or public defender.
A good defense attorney will fight for their client striving to get the best possible outcome. This can be done while maintaining a respectful, professional relationship with the prosecutor. Being known and respected by local prosecutors works to the client's advantage because the attorney is trusted and brings credibility to the representation.
You really misunderstand the dynamic between us and ASAs. We may be courteous to an ASA or polite or friendly, be patient when they need us to be, but we never offer up a client in a bad deal or something like that to an ASA. It just doesn't work like that. They and we are professionals with most of the time a difficult job to do and they and judges respect when you do your job well and show you respect in return. A local attorney does get you a better result more often but its because of the mutual respect and cordiality and the fact that they know you know what you are doing, not because of some hey I'll give you this one and hook me up next time. Never happens like that
Think about the civil war. Federal and Confederate generals were classmates from West Point and often (like Grant and Longstreet) close personal friends, and they believed in honor and mutual respect, but when the time came to fight, you had better believe they fought. Same thing with lawyers, really.
Remember, too, that good lawyers choose their battles. A capable and skillful lawyer does not fight over every little aspect of a case for the sake of being what non-attorney might view as "aggressive." Where aspects of a case are clear or not in dispute, the attorneys generally reach an agreement. This is not caving in. It is clearing the decks for action.
As for local vs. out-of-town attorneys, my experience is that out-of-town attorneys are not, in general, able to accomplish more than the local people. And what an attorney can accomplish depends primarily on (1) hard work and thorough preparation, which any lawyer can and should do, and (2) the facts of the case, which no lawyer can change.
Often local attorneys have experience evaluating the local prosecutors' plea offers and trying cases against them. In addition, local attorneys have experience with the local judges' rulings on the law and sentencing.
Consider whether any attorney that you consult listens to you, answers your questions, seems to know what he or she is doing, and whether you feel comfortable that the attorney would try his or her best for you. No one can guarantee the outcome. Even if an attorney gets along with the prosecutor and judge, that does not necessarily hurt the client. It does the client no good to needlessly tick off the prosecutor or judge. Consider that athletes on opposing teams can fight like hell during the game, but shake hands and talk to each other afterwards.
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A local lawyer is likely to have the most insight into how the local court works. While they do want to maintain cordial relationships with the Judges and Prosecutors, they have an ethical duty to fight for you. They will do that. If they are unwilling to do that, they would be in a different (easier) line of work.
Lawyers and judges respect other lawyers who advocate forcefully for their clients. Those lawyers who have a reputation for doing this usually get the best results.
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