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N.C. Halts death penalty; MD. Urged to challenge it The movement against capital punishment has continued to grow, with North Carolina’s governor halting executions pending further review and Maryland’s governor urging legislators to repeal the state’s death penalty. In North Carolina, a federal judge said last month that a doctor must monitor the executions, which are done by lethal injection. But the state’s medical board opposes doctors’ participation in execution, so Governor Mike Easley has temporarily stopped all capital punishment. In Maryland, executions were halted in December following a court ruling that sought to modify regulations on lethal injection. Last week, Governor Martin O’Malley told the state’s lawmakers that capital punishment is “unjust” and asked them to repeal it. Court rejects conviction of ex-trading specialist In a blow to the office of Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia, a federal judge has taken the rare step of reversing a jury verdict convicting a former New York Stock Exchange trading specialist of securities fraud in a scheme known as “interpositioning.” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, in U.S. v. Finnerty, No. 05 cr. 393 (S.D.N.Y.), agreed last week to set aside the Oct. 26, 2006, verdict. Chin held that federal prosecutors failed to prove fraudulent or deceptive conduct within the meaning of the securities laws. Justice nominated to head Conn. high court Governor M. Jodi Rell has nominated Chase T. Rogers to succeed William J. Sullivan as Connecticut chief justice, after a 10-month vacancy, the longest in state history.Rogers, 50, is registered independent. She is the youngest of the seven known candidates who prequalified for the chief justice post before the Judicial Selection Commission last year. Rogers’ nomination dims the prospects of Peter T. Zarella, the Supreme Court associate justice nominated by Rell to succeed Sullivan last March 17.Sullivan’s botched attempt to suppress a controversial high court decision in which Zarella voted created a political scandal with the legislative judiciary committee, which is charged with reviewing judicial candidates prior to a final vote by the state House and Senate. Juror’s background may endanger record verdict The defense counsel who secured last year’s record-setting $217 million medical malpractice verdict for accidentally paralyzed plaintiff Allan Navarro in Tampa, Fla., are seeking a new trial because a juror allegedly did not disclose that he was a convicted felon. The counsel argue that the juror, who purportedly pleaded guilty to two felony counts of selling cocaine in Cobb County, Ga., in 1993, was not qualified under Florida rules to serve on the jury panel. Navarro v. Austin, No. 02-6154 (Hillsborough Co., Fla., Cir. Ct.) .Florida’s 2d District Court of Appeal, where the case went after verdict-last year’s sixth-largest nationwide and Florida’s largest medical malpractice win-returned jurisdiction to the trial court last week to decide the issue before the appeal proceeds. Four firms raise pay for Atlanta-based associates Atlanta associates of four more firms have caught the pay raise wave. Representatives of Philadelphia-based Duane Morris and Atlanta firms Kilpatrick Stockton; Smith, Gambrell & Russell; and Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs said last week that their firms were raising pay for Atlanta first-year associates to $130,000 per year, the benchmark set by some of the largest Atlanta-based firms in recent weeks. Managing partners of Kilpatrick were unavailable for questions about what the Atlanta first-year increase would mean for other associates. The other three firms said that associates in other classes would get a pay bump but not necessarily the $15,000 raise that first-years got.

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