There is a running gag in Prince George's County's legal circles: "The courthouse was built around Bud," attorneys say, speaking of State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr. Others say it seems as if Marshall has held the chief prosecutor's job forever. Actually, it has been 16 years. Although he was unopposed when elected to a fifth term last November, Marshall has been an often controversial figure over the years.

Thisreputation has persisted despite the fact that "I've become more and more an administrator each year. This job needs an administrator, not a lawyer, these days."

In fact, this will be the first case Marshall has tried in three years. His decision to return to the courtroom after prolonged absence has brought criticism from both pro- and anti-Johnson forces.

Many in the black community, led by the Rev. Perry A. Smith, have ased why Marshall would not go before a grand jury 14 months ago to try to obtain an indictment against a white policeman who had fatally shot a black suspect, but will prosecute a black teen-ager.

"I have never gone before the grand jury in any case, including this one," Marshall said. "I have always said that I will prosecute any fatal shooting involving a policeman, If the ifficer had been indicted, I would have prosecuted him."

Members of the police force, including some of the close friends of the slain officers, Albert M. Claggett IV and James Brian Ewart did not want Marshall to prosecute the case himself because they think his courtroom skills may be rusty.

"Oh, yes, I've thought about that," said Marshall. "But I believe in this case and I'm going to try it. If I didn't believe in it I would not prosecute it myself."

Marshall candidly admits that he has become emotionally involved in this extremely emotional case. "I think it's good to be emotionally involved in what you are doing," he said.

"We've worked very hard preparing for this. I'm nervous and a little excited. I think any lawyer who isn't a little nervous before he goes into court has a problem."