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MERGER TALKS OFF, NEW PRESTON GATES PARTNER San Diego’s Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps and Seattle’s Preston Gates & Ellis announced Tuesday that merger talks were off. Robert Buell, Luce, Forward’s managing partner, said in a statement that the decision was mutual. “The preliminary discussions did not identify sufficient potential synergies within practice areas to warrant a merger,” Buell said. When reached, he declined to discuss the matter further. B. Gerald Johnson, Preston Gates’ managing partner, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. The firms had come forward publicly in January with their plan to investigate a merger. The deal would have given the 400-lawyer Preston Gates a stronger foothold in Southern California while the 200-lawyer Luce, Forward stood to gain access to a bigger platform. Also on Tuesday, Preston announced it was expanding its government and regulatory practice in San Francisco with the hire of Clothilde Hewlett from the California State and Consumer Services Agency. Hewlett, who until last week was undersecretary at the state agency, will start work at Preston Gates on April 28, said Michael McCabe, managing partner of Preston Gates’ San Francisco office. Hewlett is currently vacationing before making the transition and was unable for comment, McCabe said. She is the 15th partner in the 36-lawyer office, McCabe said, and the latest in a push to grow the firm’s government practice in San Francisco. Last year, the firm added partner Brian Toman, who had been chief counsel of the California Franchise Tax Board, to handle tax controversies in San Francisco. – Renee Deger JUDGE WANTS BRIEFING IN POT MISTRIAL BID U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer decided not to rule on marijuana guru Ed Rosenthal’s motion for a mistrial Tuesday. Instead, Breyer ordered a round of briefing on the question of whether outside legal advice obtained by a juror prior to deliberations can be prejudicial. Juror Marney Craig has already submitted a court declaration saying she asked a lawyer whether, in general, jurors have to follow the law and convict if the prosecution proves its case. But she has not said which lawyer she spoke with, and Rosenthal lawyer Dennis Riordan, of Riordan & Rosenthal (no relation), wants to question Craig on how the information affected her. Assistant U.S. Attorney George Bevan Jr. said the government won’t grant Craig immunity. But Riordan said the government wants to keep Craig from testifying and never would prosecute a juror for misconduct. “There is no real danger of any negative legal consequence being visited upon this juror if she were to testify,” Riordan said. Thus, Riordan said, there is no basis for Craig to assert the Fifth Amendment. To win his motion for a mistrial, Riordan must get Breyer to rule that the extraneous information affected deliberations. Instead of Craig testifying about how the information affected her, the parties stipulated that the conversation took place, and the issue will be decided in the briefs. A motion for a new trial is also pending. Rosenthal was convicted of running a large marijuana operation, but Breyer disallowed testimony that it was grown for medical purposes. – Jason Hoppin TRIAL STARTS IN UPS ADA CLASS ACTION A huge class action against United Parcel Service Inc. began trial Tuesday in U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson’s courtroom. The plaintiffs are more than 900 deaf and hearing-impaired employees and applicants who allege UPS failed to accommodate them in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The trial is expected to last for months. The plaintiffs are arguing that deaf UPS employees are “marginalized, kept in bottom rung jobs.” UPS countered during opening arguments that it doesn’t engage in a pattern of discrimination. Plaintiffs are not only seeking to end what they call years of second-class citizenship for deaf employees, but are asking Henderson to order “simple, obvious accommodations.” They include captioned training videos and interpreters at meetings. Three of the named plaintiffs were on hand for Tuesday’s opening arguments. Two interpreters signed arguments in shifts, while the defense has hired its own interpreter. The plaintiffs are represented by Larry Paradis of Oakland’s Disability Rights Advocates and Todd Schneider of Schneider & Wallace. UPS is represented by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Patricia Radez. With 360,000 employees, UPS is the nation’s fourth-largest employer. – Jason Hoppin EX-BROBECK PARTNER JOINS COX, CASTLE Former Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison partner Margo Bradish has joined the real estate firm Cox, Castle & Nicholson. Bradish joined Brobeck in 1993 after graduating from Boalt Hall School of Law. She left the firm at the end of December, six weeks before it disbanded. Bradish’s practice focuses on land use law with an emphasis on strategizing and managing the development and entitlement processes, securing development approvals, and negotiating land use contracts for developers, corporate users and non-profits. “Cox, Castle offers an incredible platform for my practice,” Bradish said. “It’s a truly full-service real estate firm. They understand the industry and can service all aspects.” Based in Los Angeles, Cox, Castle has 102 lawyers firmwide; 11 are located in San Francisco. – Brenda Sandburg

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