1. Hire Former Greene County Prosecutors.
As Assistant Prosecutors in Greene County, my law partner and I have handled thousands of DUI/DWI, Misdemeanor and Felony cases. We understand how cases and prosecutions in Greene County work from the inside out, and we have a good, working relationship with police officers, current prosecutors, and court personnel. These relationships are important in ensuring that your case is handled in the best possible manner.
As former prosecutors in the system, we experienced firsthand how Greene County Assistant Prosecutors and police are trained and how a case is prepared and tried to a judge or jury. In fact, we helped train the Prosecutors and Police. We are both POST certified for training officers and we were heads of the Major Crimes Unit and the General Crimes Unit. We understand the internal pressures and decision making process that prosecutors face and the analysis they go through in deciding what to do with a case.
Our experience on both sides of the system gives us knowledge and experience that cannot be gained by an attorney who has spent their entire career on only one side of the system. It is a perspective that has worked to the advantage of our former clients.
Issue Number 1 - Attorneys who prosecuted in other places do not offer you the same benefit! An attorney that was a prosecutor in a county other than Greene County, or another state, does not have this same local experience. The advantage of having a former prosecutor on your case is largely lost when you hire someone who prosecuted in another Missouri County or, worse yet, another State where the laws, procedure, and system are entirely different.
Local unwritten procedure and customs vary greatly from county to county within Missouri. Additionally, a large part of what a lawyer brings to bear on behalf of his clients is the lawyer's good reputation and familiarity with the people in the system. Prosecutors spend years developing this reputation and these relationships. If a lawyer up and moves from the jurisdiction in which they were a prosecutor, they leave this all behind. The relationships they may have had in place with the court personnel and other players in the system are no longer an asset once they move to a new county to practice.
Issue Number 2 - Not every attorney who claims to be a "Former Prosecutor" is actually an accomplished former Prosecutor. My suggestion is to ask some questions:
Were you a prosecutor or a "law clerk"? Where were you a prosecutor? How long were you there? What kind of cases did you prosecute? How many of these kind of cases did you prosecute?
MRD Lawyers, myself and Russ Dempsey, have prosecuted EVERY sort of case that you can think of in the criminal justice system. I started out in child support, moved through traffic cases, persons cases (assaults, child abuse and rape cases), major crimes (homicides and robberies) and then went into management to train young attorneys how to prosecute cases. Russ Dempsey started in traffic, moved into Crimes Against Persons Unit and finally into management of the Major Crimes Unit, earning the outstanding trial attorney in the State of Missouri, the Lon O. Hocker Award from the Missouri Bar Association.
2. Avoid hiring a lawyer from OUTSIDE of Greene County to handle your Greene County case. I can tell you this from having been on the other side of the equation as prosecutor, hiring a lawyer from neighboring counties or cities can be a major disadvantage. WHY? Much like the saying "you always want a hometown ref" the practice of law in this area is as well. There are 14 different judges in the Greene County Court and Springfield Municipal Court and over 38 prosecutors. Not personally knowing the players involved and the decisions they make puts your lawyer at a significant disadvantage.
3. Avoid Attorneys that only "Dabble" in Criminal and DWI Defense. The days of the general practitioner are over. The law has become complex and changes frequently. Lawyers who do a little bit of everything are unable to stay current with, and fully understand, the changes in the law and the technical aspects of cases. Moreover, DUI and non-traffic criminal cases are very intricate and can involve a significant number of issues. Any attorney who only dabbles in this area is not qualified to handle your case. You may never know that there were flaws or defects in your case because your attorney will not have recognized and alerted you to them. If your attorney makes a mistake, you pay the consequences. Make sure you hire the very best DWI attorney or Criminal Defense Attorney that stays focused on that sort of law.
4. Know what lawyer will be appearing in Court on your behalf. In Greene County, court is where all the major action occurs. Cases can't be resolved by phone or letter - ONLY in court. Some firms will tout the experience of a head lawyer and then send someone else to court to handle your case. You may like the lead attorney on the phone and feel comfortable with him or her. Then when you show up in court a different attorney is there to represent you before the Judge and to negotiate with the prosecutor, perhaps one with very little or no experience with your type of case.
At our firm, we personally speak with each potential client that has a case in Greene County. We cannot accept every potential client that calls because of our strong commitment to personal service. We are the only attorneys that will perform legal work on your case and appear in court with you. Not some young kid right out of law school.
5. Look for proof of satisfied clients! We have produced results on behalf of our former clients. We have a track record. Many of our former clients were so happy with the results that they provided written testimonials on our behalf as great criminal defense attorneys. I urge you to read the testimonials and case results available on www.avvo.com and www.google.com. Any attorney can tell you he or she will do a great job for you, but unless they have produced great results in the past, there is no track record you can trust.