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The seat Miguel Estrada never won has been offered to the GC of Brigham Young University. Thomas Griffith has received President Bush’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. A former partner in D.C.’s Wiley, Rein and Fielding, Griffith may have an advantage over his predecessor in winning Senate confirmation: In the late 1990s, he was the Senate’s GCJones Day partner Richard Chesley lost one Wednesday, as a Michigan judge ruled that claims against former Kmart execs should go to arbitration. Chesley guides the Kmart Creditor Trust, which accuses the retailer’s former leaders of siphoning millions as it slid into bankruptcy. Circuit Court Judge Rudy Nichols ruled that the contracts of ex-CEO Charles Conaway and others protected them from a jury trial … An abused woman’s 50-year sentence for killing her husband, allegedly in self-defense, has Iowans rethinking the state’s mandatory sentencing laws. The case of Dixie Shanahan prompted a lament Monday from the judge forced to sentence her. A day later, Gov. Tom Vilsack signed legislation to allow forcible felony offenders to be eligible for parole after serving 70 — rather than 85 — percent of their sentences … No Scalia, no problem, notes the Curmudgeonly Clerk, complaining bitterly of alleged media bias. The blogger wants to know why commentators who spear the justice for partisan stances made nary a whimper in response to John Paul Stevens’ critique of the death penalty this week … “I bet you want to talk now, huh?” said a Maryland cop to a carjacking and murder suspect who’d just seen that penalties could include execution. The suspect went on to confess, but may never be tried for the crimes. The state’s Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday his statements can’t be admitted because the officer’s comment amounted to an interrogation. – Lori Patel

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