Sen. John. W. Warner today recommended the White House pick Virginia's next three federal judges from a list of 13 white males, ending a three-months search for judicial nominees that placed special emphasis on finding qualified blacks and women.
The Republican senator's announcement triggered cries of disappointment and disillusionment from individuals and organizations that had suggested more than a dozen candidates to Warner to become the first black or woman federal judge in Virginia since Reconstruction.
Several said Warner's action recalled Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr.'s refusal during the Carter administration to back the White House nomination of a black Richmond judge to the federal bench there.
Jack Gravely, executive secretary of the Virginia conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Warner's decision amounted to "an intellectual indictment of all the black people of Virginia."
Gammiel G. Poindexter, the black woman prosecutor of Surry County who is president of the 250-member Old Dominion Bar Association, an organization of black attorneys, said, "We applauded Sen. Warner for being willing to listen [to recommendations].He raised our hopes. But the result is the same."
Warner defended his list of candidates at a news conference here this morning, saying "The only disappointment I encountered was that several highly qualified individuals respectfully declined to have their names submitted for consideration."
Warner refused to identify those who declined, except to say that "at least one outstanding woman" was among them. He added that "a number of women and minorities told me they would not want to [be given] the slightest preference."
On of 10 persons recommended to fill two positions as U.S. attorney in Virginia was U.S. Magistrate Elsie L. Munsell of Alexandria. Two of the eight men proposed for two U.S. marshall positions are black.
Recommending Munsell as a prosecutor instead of a judge was "a close call," Warner said. "But after meeting with her three or four times, I felt it was preferable for her to be nominated for U.S. attorney."
Munsell, 42, said yesterday she asked Warner "not to put me on the list at this time" as a potential judge. She has been a member of the bar 8 1/2 years, which she said is less than the median number of years recommended for judges by the American Bar Association.
"If she is later considered for a judgeship," Warner went on, "there will be no possible question about her ability to compete."
The freshman senator, whose chance to make the recommendations came with the elections of Republican President Ronald Reagan, said he had "faithfully adhered to" a commitment that "partisanship would not dominate nor distort my search."
But all four men suggested for a vacancy on the federal bench in Alexandria have ties to the Republican party. They are:
James C. Cacheris, 48, of Annandale, a Fairfax Circuit Court judge. Appointed to the state bench by then Republican governor Linwood Holton, Cacheris headed Greek organizations boosting the candidates of Holton and Richard Nixon in 1968.
Harvey B. Cohen, 50, of Vienna, former president of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. Cohen was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the legislature in 1963 and was active in Warner's Senate campaign.
M. Patton Echols Jr., 55, of Arlington. A former Republican legislator, he was the GOP nominee for state attorney general in 1973, losing to Democrat Andrew Miller.
Wiley R. Wright Jr., 49, of Alexandria, chief judge of the Circuit Court in Alexandria, to which he was appointed by Holton in 1968.
Competing against Munsell for the prosecutor's post will be four men: William F. Davis, 59, chairman of the Suffolk school board; Frank W. Dunham Jr., 38, of Alexandria, former first assistant U.S. attorney and a law partner of Cohen's; Kenneth L. Foran, 39, of Alexandria, former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee; and Barry R. Poretz, 37, former assistant commonwealth's attorney for Alexandria.
Those recommended for the judicial vacancy in Norfolk are Robert G. Doumar and U.S. Migistrate James T. Turner, both of Norfolk, and Henry C. Morgan Jr. of Virginia Beach.
Recommended for the vacancy in western Virginia are William B. Poff of Roanoke , Circuit Court Judge William W. Sweeney of Lynchburg, Circuit Judge Norman K. Moon of Lynchburg, Everly A. (Monk) Davis of Rocky Mount, Jackson L. Kiser of Martinsville and Phillips C. Stone of Rockingham County.
The blacks recommended for U.S. marshall are Lewis F. Barnes, 51, a deputy marshal in Norfolk, and Louie T. McKinney, 45, of Riverdale, Md., assistant chief of the marshall service's witness security program in McLean. aThey will compete against each other and three other men for the post in the eastern district.