Williams & connolly lawyer Jon w. Vardaman Jr. may have had some good arguments prepared in a recent case, but a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel just didn't want to hear them.

Vardaman, representing a man indicted last September by a federal grand jury on allegations of corporate bribery, had asked U.S. District Court Judge Norma Holloway Johnson to dismiss the grand jury indictment because it was issued--by his reckoning--the day after the 18-month term of the grand jury had expired.

Johnson agreed with him and dismissed the indictment on Jan. 12.

he Justice Department appealed, arguing that federal rules clearly state that the first day of a grand jury is not to be counted when figuring out when the term expires. Since the first day is not to be counted, the department argued, then the indictments were returned on the last official day of the grand jury and were therefore valid.

Justice asked the appeals court for a summary reversal and for a prompt schedule for filing written arguments in the case.

The appeals court panel agreed with Justice on the summary reversal, but not on the expedited scheduling for filing briefs. It turns out that the panel--Judges J. Skelly Wright, George E. MacKinnon and Roger Robb--didn't want to read any arguments at all.

The claim that the grand jury's term had expired, the judges said, "is so lacking in merit as not to warrant extended discussion." They ordered Johnson to reinstate the indictment and reinstitute the prosecution.