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COURT UPHOLDS S.F. BAN ON WRITE-INS If San Francisco wants to ban write-in voting for municipal runoff elections, so be it. On Thursday, the California Supreme Court unanimously declared that the city’s prohibition does not violate the California Constitution’s free-speech clause. The city does not prohibit write-in votes for general elections. Michael Edelstein, a would-be write-in candidate for mayor, and Richard Winger, a registered voter who supported his candidacy, challenged the city’s system on the eve of the 1999 mayoral runoff election. San Francisco Superior Court Judge David Garcia threw out the suit, but was reversed by the First District Court of Appeal. In overturning the appeal court, the Supreme Court on Thursday examined 1985′s Canaan v. Abdelnour, 40 Cal.3d 703, in which it struck down a San Diego ban on write-in votes in general elections, and Burdick v. Takushi, 504 U.S. 428, in which the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 upheld Hawaii’s total ban on write-in voting. The court chose to overrule Canaan in part. “We conclude,” Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote, “that San Francisco’s prohibition against write-in voting in the mayoral runoff election was not a severe restriction on voting rights, but rather that it imposed only a limited burden on voters’ rights to make free choices and to associate politically through the vote.” Justice Carlos Moreno wrote separately, concurring with the majority, but saying he would not have found it necessary to overrule Canaan. He was joined by Justices Joyce Kennard and Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. The ruling is Edelstein v. City and County of San Francisco, 02 C.D.O.S. 10998. — Mike McKee NEW HIRE, NEW GROUP FOR FENWICK & WEST Fenwick & West launched a biotechnology patent prosecution group this week when it lured Michael Shuster away from Bingham McCutchen. Shuster started work Monday in Fenwick’s San Francisco office, joining a patent group of about 45 lawyers though he alone is charged with prosecuting biotech patents. David Hayes, the partner who heads Fenwick’s intellectual property group, said patent prosecution was the only thing missing when it came to catering to biotechnology companies. “As a tech firm, we really need to do this,” Hayes said. Shuster had worked with another Fenwick hire from the old McCutchen, Lynn Pasahow, for some 10 years before Pasahow left to join Fenwick in April 2001. Fenwick had tried to lure Shuster away back then but the patent lawyer said at the time he wasn’t ready. Shuster said his departure from Bingham McCutchen is not related to the July merger that created the firm. Boston’s Bingham Dana merged with San Francisco’s McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen. Pasahow left McCutchen to avoid participating in a merger. “My practice has matured a little bit,” Shuster said, adding that he missed working with Pasahow. — Renee Deger

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