On Friday night there were Democrat champagne toasts for David Boies, the leader of Al Gore's see-sawing legal effort to take the presidency. But tonight, Mr Boies - now more prominent than all the judges he faces - will be wanting the clearest of heads as his team makes a last-ditch stand in America's toughest court. Friday's jubilation soured on Saturday as the US Supreme Court halted fresh court-ordered re-counts in Florida pending a full hearing tonight. Democrats now fear the worst. Even if they win, they may not be able to stage re-counts in time for the Wednesday deadline for the appointment of the 25 all-important representatives from Florida to the Electoral College. If George W. Bush's earlier certified lead still stands, the electors will all be Republicans and the Texas Governor's confirmation as America's 43rd President will be assured. They also fear that in granting a temporary stay on Saturday, it has been acknowledged that Mr Bush's appeal has a strong chance of success. At no point will Mr Boies' presence be more important to the presidential hopes of Mr Gore. Defeat, after all, is not something he is used to. Having lost just one out of his last 45 big cases, Mr Boies is considered the most sought after litigator in America, often charging more than US$700 (HK$5,460) an hour. His lank hair, cheap watches and rumpled suits are not to be misinterpreted - Mr Boies exploits a photographic memory to skewer witnesses with a formidable questioning style. This is his first major foray into the election arena, one where both political and legal questions converge - an effort he is conducting for free, having earlier donated to Democratic causes. In Florida he appeared to meet his match as Circuit Court judge N. Sanders Sauls firmly rejected Mr Gore's demands for re-counts, only for the state's Supreme Court to put him back in front. The US Supreme Court in Washington is a different arena, where each side will only get 45 minutes to make their case. The nine-member bench, all appointed to life-terms, can prove rough on reputations as they pepper advocates with rapid-fire questions from all directions. Mr Boies is already showing that he is afraid to voice his opinion of the bench. On Saturday, Mr Boies said he believed Mr Gore would ultimately win, but warned the judges had made it more difficult by forcing a delay just before tomorrow's deadline. 'I think the timing issue is probably the single most disappointing thing about what the Supreme Court has done,' he said.