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A Los Angeles judge finally got the Bay Area seat she’d longed for when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger filled four superior court spots Wednesday. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronni MacLaren is one of two judges named to the Alameda County bench, along with Michael Gaffey, a Santa Clara County prosecutor. Big-firm civil litigators Curtis Karnow and Marla Miller will each take seats on the San Francisco bench, the governor’s office announced. The Republican governor’s first San Francisco picks are both Democrats, while he picked a Republican, Gaffey, for Alameda County. MacLaren declined to state a party affiliation on her voter registration, according to the governor’s office. Then-Gov. Pete Wilson first appointed MacLaren to the Los Angeles municipal court bench in 1997, and she became a superior court judge when L.A.’s courts unified in 2000. She asked for a Bay Area seat when her husband, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner Stephen Mansfield, was asked to open a San Francisco office for his firm. He preceded her to the Bay Area in October 2003, and she followed in February 2004 to fill in for several months for the Alameda County judge who was sent to preside over the Scott Peterson murder trial in San Mateo County. Since that assignment concluded, she’s been filling in for various judges in San Francisco. “I am honored by the governor’s appointment, and I am looking forward to continuing my service as a judge in the California courts,” said MacLaren, 49, who now lives in Mill Valley. Before she became a judge, the 1980 University of Virginia School of Law graduate spent five years doing business litigation as an associate at Adams, Duque & Hazeltine in Los Angeles. She joined the U.S. attorney’s office there in 1985, where she spent about 12 years prosecuting white-collar crimes, eventually specializing in health care fraud. Gaffey, 48, has been a local prosecutor since 1984. The Hastings College of the Law graduate spent 10 years as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, and another 11 as a deputy DA in Santa Clara County. Karnow, a 51-year-old partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, said he hopes to preside over criminal and civil courtrooms, noting he’s mixed both in his career. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1977, he became an assistant U.S. attorney in Pennsylvania, clerking for U.S. District Judge Louis Pollak. He logged time as an associate with Fine, Kaplan and Black in Philadelphia before moving to San Francisco in the early 1980s, where he joined the now-defunct Landels, Ripley & Diamond to do commercial litigation, particularly antitrust work, and became partner. He moved to his current post about eight years ago. He focuses on intellectual property and antitrust litigation and has also done some white-collar defense work. Miller, 50, also has a mix of criminal and civil law on her resume. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1980, she clerked for Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Charles Merrill, then joined the litigation department at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin. She left that firm and spent about five years in the U.S. attorney’s criminal division, then returned to Howard, Rice, where she at one point chaired the firm’s litigation department. Miller was the first in a string of second-in-commands that former district attorney Terence Hallinan hired after taking office in 1996. She quit four months into that job, criticizing Hallinan for bad-mouthing her handling of a sexual harassment complaint that one prosecutor had lodged against another. In her current job, the Morrison & Foerster partner specializes in complex civil litigation, including intellectual property. Miller also sits on the board of the Bar Association of San Francisco. The judges will each be paid $139,784 a year. They replace retired San Francisco judge Lillian Sing, deceased San Francisco judge Lenard Louie, retired Alameda County judge Jack Gifford, and retired Alameda County judge Philip Sarkisian. None of the four contributed to Schwarzenegger’s campaign.

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