Quite unfair:

Like a parent telling two children to go work things out for themselves, the justices declined to resolve the The Great High Court Showdown of 2008 — Olson v. Larisa.

The Court’s refusal to resolve the spat left Rhode Island, its governor and the town council of Charlestown to choose who — Supreme Court novice Joseph Larisa, or veteran Ted Olson — will appear before the justices on Monday to argue Carcieri v. Kempthorne, an Indian land case.

Their decision? Olson, according to a report on Scotus blog. Larisa, who’s never argued before the High Court, will be left to watch as Olson takes the reins on a case that Larisa has reportedly spent the better part of a decade working on

It may make sense before a Supreme Court, particularly the Supreme Court, given the limited scope of the short argument and how they generally care not one whit about the facts or details of the case, but instead focus on more general legal and policy questions. Olson knows the Court, the Court knows him, so it may make sense to bring in a big name on the eve of the argument.

But don’t ever do that on a trial. Not ever. Trials are different. Trials are unpredictable. Trials can turn on "minor" details and quick-thinking during direct or cross examination.

Maybe you’ll get lucky. Maybe the case really is so simple that it comes down to a lawyer’s experience in a particular field or in connecting with juries.

That, however, is the exception, not the rule. Trial preparation requires not just work but time. It cannot simply be crammed into the space of a week, a few days, or the first couple nights at trial. It’s not enough to read and re-read all the depositions and pleadings and motions: you need to think about them.

This point is so important it’s worth mixing metaphors: the facts need to marinate in your head, and your ideas need to germinate and flower so that they can percolate at the right time during the trial.

That cannot be done in a week. It reminds me of advice I read from a preacher (to fellow preachers) many years ago: the Lord reveals far more in a month than He does in a day.

Combine that with Sun Tzu’s Art of War: every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.

And we have our motto: every trial is either won in the months, or lost in the days, before it’s ever tried.