Forty-two persons-six judges on the city Supreme Bench and 36 other Maryland lawyers-have asked Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-md.) to recommend them for appointment to the U.S. District Court.

There are two openings for the $54,500-a-year job. The final say on recommendations to President Carter for the posts lies with Sarbanes.

Citing the confidentiality of the selection process, Peter Marudas, Sarbanes' administrative assistant, would not release the names or provide a breakdown by race, sex or geography of the applicants.

But, he said, "I can tell you that women, blacks and judges have applied."

Baltimore City Supreme Bench Judges Joseph C. Howard, Shirley Jones, Martin B. Greenfield, John R. Hargrove and Elsbeth Bothe, all have confirmed they have filed applications.

Besides Jones and Bothe, at least one other woman has filed for the post. According to Alexander Breuer, chairman of the Prince George's County bar association's judicial elections committee, Judge Audrey E. Melbourne has filed an application. She recently was elevated from the District Court to the circuit Court in Prince George's.

Prince George's County Circuit Court Judges William H. McCullough and Vincent J. Femia also have applied, as has county District Court Judge Sylvania W. Woods.

Sarbanes is expected to make his recommendations sometime next month and send the list to the attorney general.