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Jane Kelly's Experience Rare

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Jane Kelly will become a federal appeals court judge Friday with an unusual background that supporters say makes her a perfect fit for the job and a potential U.S. Supreme Court candidate.

The 48-year-old has spent her career as a public defender representing low-income criminal defendants, a rarity among appeals court judges who often are former prosecutors and trial judges. She'll become the second woman ever on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kelly worked at the federal public defender's office in Cedar Rapids since 1994, after attending Harvard Law School in the same class as President Barack Obama.

Associates say she's a smart legal thinker who's zealously protected defendants' rights. She's also the survivor of a 2004 beating along an Iowa jogging path that hospitalized her for weeks.

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