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Orrick and Dewey call off planned merger Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Dewey Ballantine have aborted their merger amid mounting differences and a steady stream of Dewey partners leaving the firm. “We jointly decided that given where we were on certain issues, it was time to decide or move on,” said Dewey Chairman Morton Pierce, who declined to discuss those issues. A source close to the deal said there were three major sticking points: dis-agreements over management and governance at the new firm, concern over New York-based Dewey’s unfunded retirement benefits and concern over the number of defecting Dewey partners. N.Y.’s Spitzer calls for court, election reforms New York Governor Eliot Spitzer last week said he will propose constitutional amendments to consolidate the state’s “balkanized” court system and to replace the elective system of selecting judges with a merit appointment process. Spitzer, in his first State of the State address, said he supports New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye’s proposal, which would reconfigure the state’s nine trial-level courts into three tiers consisting of Supreme Court, a Surrogate’s Court and a statewide District Court. The governor said his proposed constitutional amendment will incorporate the chief judge’s plan, but did not offer further details. McKenna’s growth plans hit snag with defection Less than a month after he joined McKenna Long & Aldridge, a former aide to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned to his former firm, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips of Los Angeles. George Kieffer, chairman of Manatt’s government and regulatory division, confirmed that Richard Costigan, Schwarzenegger’s former legislative secretary, will rejoin the firm’s government division in the coming days. The reasons behind Costigan’s decision to switch shops are unclear. Costigan was unavailable for comment last week. His quick departure raises questions about McKenna’s expansion plans in the California capital. Jeffrey Miller, the firm’s managing director in Sacramento, has told sources around the capital that the firm is weighing its future in the market in the wake of Costigan’s leaving. Harriet Miers resigns as White House counsel Harriet Miers, President Bush’s failed Supreme Court nominee, has submitted her resignation as White House counsel, the White House announced last week. White House press secretary Tony Snow said the president reluctantly accepted her resignation, which takes effect on Jan. 31. He said a search for a successor is under way. Bush nominated Miers in October 2005 to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, but she dropped out under fire from conservatives who questioned her qualifications and would not support her. Asked why she was leaving, Snow said: “Basically, she has been here six years. “As somebody said earlier today, ‘She put 12 years of service into six years,’ ” Snow said. N.J. commission calls for end to death penalty A legislative commission is urging abolition of the death penalty in New Jersey, to be replaced by life imprisonment without parole and with any resulting cost savings to be used for the benefit of murder victims’ families. The state Death Penalty Study Commission released a report last week that concluded, among other things, that there is no compelling evidence that the New Jersey death penalty rationally serves a legitimate penological intent and that the death penalty costs more than life without parole. The sole dissenter to the report was John Russo, a former state Senate president and the author of New Jersey’s death penalty statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. � 2C:11-3. In a minority report, he asked the Legislature to fix the problems with capital punishment rather than abolish it. Steptoe in Chicago with Gardner Carton lawyers Washington’s Steptoe & Johnson LLP opened a Chicago office last week with a nine-partner group of lawyers from Chicago’s Gardner Carton & Douglas. The group, led by Christopher Barber and Stephen O’Donnell and specializing in litigation work for the financial services, insurance and reinsurance industries, will most likely total 15 to 20 lawyers and staff members. The group’s departure from Gardner Carton, which merged into Philadelphia’s Drinker Biddle & Reath on Jan. 1, came as no surprise, as the group had obvious client conflicts with the new combined firm, said Drinker Biddle’s chairman, Alfred Putnam Jr. The Chicago office is Steptoe’s first in the Midwest.

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