Good in theory, not always in practice. If you are fortunate enough to know a good attorney - an honest attorney who has experience in your type of case and you can afford - fine.
I'll be the first to admit there are bad attorneys and sometimes people get them. The problem is nonattorneys very often have very little knowledge as to what makes a bad attorney. From my own personal experience, I've seen a guy who was universally known by those in the profession in the area as the absolute WORST attorney. Unskilled, uninformed, barely educated and just downright stupid. But clients loved him because he was aggressive and loud. They thought that was indicative of a good attorney. And that's the problem--if you're a nonlawyer it's often hard to know who is a good attorney, and what people think is a good quality to have usually isn't.
Unfortunately, many attorneys have cozy relationships with judges and district attorney. I have three different friends who both were the victims of such corrupt triangles. These were in essence slam dunk cases, and the attorney involved in two of the cases mislead the client and basically threw the cases to the other side.
This is a perfect example. You WANT an attorney to have a good relationship with the prosecutor and the judge. No, you don't want someone who will cave because of friendship, but I assure you, having a good working relationship is 9 times out of 10 invaluable to a defense attorney. As a prosecutor, I've seen defense attorneys who were known as "difficult to work with" (meaning they generally fought over stupid pointless things in an attempt to make their client think they were working hard for them) get terrible plea offers from other prosecutors out of spite, and seen judges purposefully screw them on rulings just because they were assholes. As a defense attorney, the good relationship I had cultivated with prosecutors (by going to lunch on occasion, by being professional and friendly, by not making things unnecessarily difficult) directly led to much better results than others got with similar cases.
You have to remember--judges and lawyers are people. And they work with each other day after day after day for their entire careers, so cultivating a good relationship is vital to being effective. No, it doesn't mean you become a pushover, but far too often clients don't understand that the laughing, handshaking, and time spent at lunch they saw the defense attorney and prosecutor sharing...led directly to better results for clients.
Have a good attorney? Great. But keep your wits about you as things run. If he or she shows signs of throwing the game, dump them pronto.
I'm not saying attorneys throwing cases doesn't happen, but I have to say, I don't think I've ever seen it. Contrary to popular belief, most attorneys respect a skilled adversary who challenges them, so there is little incentive to "throw" cases. In fact, it's a disincentive. As a lawyer, your reputation is your most important asset. To throw it away because of some imagined benefit you'd receive by throwing a case because you were "cozy" with the prosecutor is judge is career suicide. Has it happened? Sure, probably. But it's really so rare it's hardly worth mentioning.
The bigger risk people face is attorney incompetence. This happens more often than you'd think. The problem, as I said, is that it's hard for nonlawyers to recognize. Being loud and aggressive aren't hallmarks of competence. There are subtle signs that those not in the field really have a hard time recognizing. That's why I emphasize the importance of attorney selection. One of the best ways to find out who is good is go down to the courthouse and speak to bailiffs and the clerks. They see the attorneys everyday and they hear all the endless gossip that floats around in a courthouse. If there's a bad attorney, they know who it is. They're not going to come out and tell you who to avoid, but they'll likely steer you towards someone good.