OJ Simpson’s famous “legal dream team” included Alan Dershowitz, who did not say much. Yet he was a key member of that team. He was, at that time, primarily an appellate attorney. As the case ran its course, he would peel every layer of the legal onion, preparing for every potential ruling.
That is all fine and good, but why was he at counsel table, every day, during the trial?
Likely, to object. In order to preserve an argument for appeal – to argue later that a ruling was wrong – it must be objected to before the trial court. Without an objection, reversal can only be obtained in case of fundamental errors, a nearly insurmountable burden. A fundamental error is one that is not only harmful and incurable, but so egregious that it damages the very fabric of a fair trial and undermines our system of justice.
When the stakes are high, a long view is necessary. Sometimes it takes not just a lawyer but a legal team, and a mind toward appeal present from the start. Or, at the very least, a trial lawyer who is sufficiently appeal-minded should run the case.