The White House has received from the city a confidential list of candidates for local judgeships that includes some of the District's leading defense lawyers, prosecutors, and judges for three vacancies on the Superior Court and one on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The list, according to sources, excludes a few prominent, more conservative candidates who had applied for the judgeships believing that their chances for nomination to the top courts would be improved under the new administration.

Among those recommended for the vacancy on the D.C. Court of Appeals, the city's highest appellate court, is Judge James A. Belson, a 13-year veteran of the Superior Court and head of the court's civil division; and 62-year-old Judge William C. Gardner, named in 1980 by President Carter to the Superior Court from the prestigious black law firm of Houston and Gardner, where he was a partner. The third candidate for the appellate post is Washington attorney William J. Doolittle.

The candidates recommended for Superior Court include Reggie B. Walton, executive assistant to U.S. Attorney Charles F. C. ruff and the city's highest ranking black prosecutor; Francis D. Carter, director of the District's public defender service; and Bruce D. Beaudin, head of the court's Pretrial Services Agency, which makes recommendations to judges on whether prisoners should be released on bond.

Included among the six other Washington lawyers recommended for the trial court were Reginald L. Holt, a law partner of criminal defense attorney R. Kenneth Mundy; Rufus King III, a local attorney; and Warren R. (Willie) King, an attorney-adviser for the Justice Department's office for improvements in the administration of justice.

The list of names delivered to the White House Sunday by the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission totaled 12 in all and the administration now has 60 days to select four new city judges from it.

White House Counsel Fred Fielding has said that "competence" will be the prime consideration in appointments to the local bench, which was read by many court observers to mean that more conservative members of the uptown bar were being encouraged to apply.

The list was notable in that it excluded several prominent, more conservative lawyers who many thought would have an improved chance of being appointed to a judgeship under the Republican administration.

Among those who had entered their names for consideration for the judgeships -- apparently unsuccessfully since their names were not sent to the White House -- were Stephen A. Trimble, former president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, which some consider a more conservative bar association than the District's mandatory bar; and John A. Terry, chief of the appellate division of the U.S. Attorney's office.

The president also has before him another list of four candidate's previousely recommended by the commission. It is unclear whether names may also be selected from that list.

The Nomination Commission made its recommendations after weeks of extensive interviews with the more than 50 initial candidates. It was the largest group of applicants for judgeships here in recent memory, according to an official with the commission