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PENNIE & EDMONDS TO SHUT DOWN NEW YORK — Intellectual property boutique Pennie & Edmonds will ring in the new year by closing its doors and firing some of its lawyers and staff. Ahead of a likely announcement of a deal for many — but not all — Pennie & Edmonds lawyers to join the New York office of Jones Day, Pennie & Edmonds’ management informed associates and staff members Monday that the 190-lawyer firm will cease practicing law and wind up affairs by Dec. 31. Pennie & Edmonds, founded in 1883, will soon become one of the largest and most prominent New York law firms to have closed its doors outside of a full-fledged merger with another firm. “While this was an extremely difficult decision for the partners of this firm to make, it is an even more difficult announcement to make to you,” Ed Henry, Pennie & Edmonds’ executive director, wrote in a memo obtained by The New York Law Journal, a Recorder affiliate. “We especially regret that the timing coincides with the holiday season.” The memo stated that the firm was in discussions with Jones Day and that offers to join that firm’s New York office would likely be extended shortly to many Pennie & Edmonds employees. But the memo was also clear that a still-unknown number of employees would not be receiving offers to join Jones Day. “If you do not receive an offer from Jones Day,” the memo went on, “we regret to inform you that your employment with Pennie & Edmonds will cease effective December 31, 2003.” Henry asked for employees’ understanding and stated that Pennie & Edmonds had made “significant efforts” but had been unable to reach an agreement with another law firm that would have preserved its practice in its present form and with all employees. The memo did not discuss whether severance would be paid to any employees. — The New York Law Journal LUCE, FORWARD NAMES NEW LEADERS Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps partners elected Robert Bell to take over as managing partner next month, the firm announced Wednesday. Bell will replace Robert Buell, who has been managing partner of the San Diego-based firm since 1998. His term expires Jan. 15. Bell is a partner in the firm’s real estate practice and has been with the firm since 1976. Luce, Forward also named two new partners to its four-member executive committee to replace Bell and partner E. Patrick “Pat” Swan Jr., whose term on the committee expires in January. The newcomers to the firm management are partners Michael Isaacs, a bankruptcy specialist in the firm’s San Francisco office, and Nancy Scull, a real estate partner in San Diego. Isaacs will serve a two-year term, and Scull will serve the last year of Bell’s term. Luce, Forward partners, who met late last month, also voted to promote six associates to the rank of partner. The new partners in San Diego are Brian Fish, S. Elizabeth Foster, Seth Friedman, Marie Burke Kenny and Melissa Trunnell. The new L.A.-based partner is David Krause-Leemon. — Renee Deger NO RETRIAL WARRANTED THOUGH JUDGE SLEPT NEW YORK — A man convicted of killing an undercover police officer should not receive a new trial, even if a judge was asleep at times while the jury was selected, a New York appeals court ruled Tuesday. In a unanimous opinion, the New York Appellate Division, 1st Department, said that since David Degondea and his attorney failed to object to the judge’s alleged behavior at the time, they could not use it to attack the jury’s verdict years later. The court also questioned whether the now-deceased trial judge, state Supreme Court Justice James Leff, had actually fallen asleep during jury selection or simply appeared “sluggish.” Two years ago, New York Supreme Court Justice Marcy Kahn ruled in this case that Leff’s “inattention” had caused him to deny a for-cause challenge to a possibly prejudicial juror. The defense subsequently exhausted its peremptory challenges and later claimed it had been prejudiced. “There is no question that it is utterly unacceptable for a judge to sleep while presiding over a trial,” wrote Justice David Friedman for the court in People v. Degondea. “Here, however, the question is whether defendant may consciously acquiesce in such conduct, and then seek, years later, to collaterally attack his conviction on that very basis. We conclude that defendant’s silence and delay preclude the attack he now makes. Moreover, we find that defendant has not proven his claim by a preponderance of the evidence.” — The New York Law Journal

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