Carin A. Clauss, whose nomination last year to be a U.S. District Court judge here ran into strong opposition because of her lack of experience trying cases, yesterday asked President Carter not to resubmit her name to the Senate.
"I am convinced that this controversy will continue," Clauss, 39, the top legal officer in the Labor Department, wrote the president in a letter released last night by the Justice Department.
She said further "protracted hearings" before the Senate Judiciary Committee would distract her from her work at the Labor Department and leave the seat unfilled even longer than the year it has been vacant.
The opposition to Clauss' appointment from a special American Bar Association panel that screens federal judicial nominees turned into a contest of will between the bar association and the Carter administration, which felt committed to support both the District's judicial screening commission that selected her and its public commission that selected her and its public commitment to appoint more women to the federal bench.
Administration officials indicated in November the president intended to renominate Clauss.
Attorney General Griffin Bell yesterday reiterated the administration's support for Clauss and said, "I have supported her nomination because I consider her qualified and believe that she has served well. I continue to have full confidence in her ability and integrity."
While the first opposition to Clauss came from the ABA panel, a U.S. Court of Appeals opinion that used uncommonly harsh language to criticize Labor Deparment lawyers she supervises held up Senate consideration of her nomination in the closing hours of its session.
She won the speedy approval of the Judiciary Committee, despite the ABA opposition, after a hearing in which committee members attacked the bar association representatives who arrayed themselves against another administration nominee.
Clauss tried to meet the ABA panel's complaint that she lacked trial experience -- which many lawyers consider essential since the job of a federal District Court judge is to conduct trials -- by taking cases to court herself.
At the same time, she argued that she had gained trial experience from extensive reading of trial records in preparing appeals briefs and arguments. She said in a Washington Post interview last June that her reading of thousands of cases gave her "a much broader perspective than trying 30 or 40 cases."
Moreover, she cited her administrative experience in supervising the Labor Department's staff of 500 lawyers as a plus that would able her to better manage her court calendar -- a problem in federal courts with more and more cases being filed each year.
In her letter of withdrawal, Clauss urged President Carter to fill "at the earliest possible time" the vacancy caused when Howard Corcoran assumed senior judge status a year ago.
A Justice Department official noted that other women are on the list submitted by the District's judicial selection commission for the Corcoran vacancy, and they could now be nominated. That would take some heat off the administration, which has been criticized for not appointing enough women to the federal bench.
Clauss is a graduate of Columbia University Law School.She worked as a civil service employe before being appointed the Labor Department's solicitor, its top legal position, in March, 1977.