Cedar Rapids attorney Jane Kelly nominated to federal appeals court

Federal public defender survived 2004 attack on Cedar Rapids recreational trail

Jane Kelly. (Gazette file photo)
Jane Kelly. (Gazette file photo)

UPDATE: Jane Kelly of the U.S. Public Defender's Office in Cedar Rapids has been nominated by President Obama nominated to the United States Court of Appeals.

Kelly, who was the victim of a mugging on a Cedar Rapids running trail eight years ago, was recommended for the nomination in November by Senator Tom Harkin. She has been an assistant federal public defender in the Northern District of Iowa since 1994 and supervising attorney in the Cedar Rapids office since 1999.

Obama said Kelly has proven herself to be not only a "first-rate" legal mind, but a faithful public servant.

Harkin joined Obama in praising Kelly.

“Jane Kelly has spent her career working on behalf of the most underprivileged in society and has fought tirelessly to ensure the rights of all Iowans are protected,” he said. “She has a reputation as an extremely talented lawyer with a great sense of compassion and fairness.  It was a privilege to recommend her to the White House and, now that she has been formally nominated, an honor on behalf of Iowans.

Harkin is looking forward to “working with my colleague, Sen. Grassley, to move her nomination through the Senate.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly will replace Judge Michael Melloy, who announced he would retire from regular service Wednesday. Melloy was appointed to the appellate bench by President George W. Bush in 2002.

Kelly was born and raised in Greencastle, Indiana.  She received her B.A. summa cum laude in 1987 from Duke University and her J.D. cum laude in 1991 from Harvard Law School. After graduating from law school, Kelly clerked for Judge Donald J. Porter of the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota.

Subsequently, she also clerked for Judge David R. Hansen of Mount Vernon on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Prior to becoming an assistant federal public defender, Kelly worked briefly as a visiting instructor at the University of Illinois College of Law.

Since joining the Federal Public Defender’s Office, Kelly has argued numerous federal appellate cases, tried 14 cases to verdict in federal court, and argued countless motions. In 2004, she received the John Adams Award from the Iowa Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, which is given annually to an Iowa attorney who has dedicated his or her career to defending the indigent.

In June 2004, while jogging on the Cedar River Trail in Cedar Rapids, Kelly was attacked by a man and dragged into a nearby creek. Two walkers found her and called police.Kelly did not recognize her attacker and police have not made an arrest.