D.C. Appeals Court Judge Stanley S. Harris may best be known to many Washingtonians as the son of Stanley (Bucky) Harris, the baseball "boy wonder" who managed the Washington Senators to the 1924 World Series championship.
Others recall Harris as one of four judges involved in the controversial attempt last year to block the reappointment of Thedore R. Newman Jr. as chief judge of the court of appeals.
But the man nominated last week by President Reagan to be U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia -- the chief federal prosecutor for the city -- has many more dimensions.
Philosophically, he is what he appears: a 55-year-old Republican judge who usually sides with the government in upholding criminal convictions. Off the bench, he is described by friends and associates as congenial, patient and fair. He is a devoted father who once eagerly took a law clerk to his teen-age son's early morning ice hockey championship match.
Appointed by President Nixon in 1971 to the Superior Court and elevated the following year to the appeals court, Harris is considered a powerful member of the conservative wing of the local bench.
In the 200 court opinions he has written in 10 years, he has never been afraid to point his pen at those who would, in his view, hamper law enforcement. In nine years on the appeals court, he has overturned just two murder convictions, while upholding scores.
" 'The law does not require that a defendant receive a perfect trial, only a fair one,' " Harris has quoted in court decisions.
Harris' sometimes controversial views on the law are evidenced in a wide range of rulings over the years. He has, for example:
* Written a recent opinion ordering the D.C. Elections Board to restore the tuition tax credit initiative to the election ballot.
* Voted to uphold the constitutionality of the D.C. law allowing judges to imprison criminal suspects without bond before trial.
* Dissented when the court upheld in 1977 the constitutionality of rent control, calling it "confiscatory for landlords" and declaring that constitutional protections "do not stop at the tenant's door."
* Called for giving judges more leeway in imposing stiff sentences on juvenile offenders, restricted the use of the insanity defense here and made it tougher for defense attorneys in trials to question rape victims about their past sexual history.
"He is what we were looking for all along," said White House Counsel Fred Fielding.
Harris, picked to replace U.S. Attorney Charles F.C. Ruff, declined to be interviewed, pending his confirmation by the Senate.
Harris was nominated after the administration backed down from its original choice of Brooklyn prosecutor Thomas P. Puccio, who masterminded the ABSCAM bribery trials, after Puccio's nomination was sharply criticized by lawyers and D.C. City Council members because he is an outsider.
There has been virtually no public criticism of Harris, a native Washingtonian, and he is expected to be confirmed with little difficulty.
Why Harris would accept a pay cut for the prosecutor's job and leave the relative securty of the bench is not clear. He has been under consideration for eventual appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals here and some believe the prosecutor's job will be a stepping stone for him to the federal court. He is also said to have become restless on the D.C. Court of Appeals after last year's devisive battle over the Newman reappointment.
The office Harris has been selected to head is unique: It prosecutes major federal cases, such as Watergate and the presidential assassination attempt charge against John W. Hinkley Jr., as well as local crimes.
Harris is expected to differ from Ruff in at least one major way. Ruff supported the proposed transfer of prosecutorial authority and judicial appointment power from the federal to the city government, an issue given great priority by Mayor Marion Barry.
Like most Reagan administration officials, however, Harris is said to oppose such a plan.
"You never know what someone will do in a new job, with new responsibilties," said Herbert O. Reid, Mayor Marion Barry's legal counsel. " Harris is a very intelligent person and his contact with that office may temper his views somewhat. Then again, it may not."
Some lawyers and city officials, however, fear that Harris is opposed to some elements of D.C. home rule and would limit the power of the District government because Washington is essentially a federal city.
However, Harris is planning to foster a close relationship with city officials, especially Corporation Counsel Judith Rogers, Police Chief Maurice T. Turner and others in the criminal justice system.
Harris, who now lives in Bethesda, attended Wilson High School and earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia. In 1953, he joined the Washington law firm of Hogan & Hartson where he worked for 17 years until he became a judge.
Harris, who still wears his father's baseball tie-tack under his judicial robe and was once interviewed for the job of baseball commissioner, is an avid outdoorsman. He likes to sail the Chesapeake and has been known to ponder his most complicated court cases in the isolation of a remote beach house on the Eastern Shore.
He helps run an area ice hockey league for more than 1,000 teen-agers. He was injured in a skiing accident last January, but as he lay in traction for several weeks, he painstakingly used a pencil to draft court opinions.
Harris has been known to play practical jokes on some of his judicial colleagues but was himself taken by surprise once when a law clerk noticed that the intricate design on his necktie actually said "Hello Handsome" backwards. The red-faced Harris reportedly rushed to a mirror and vowed never to wear the tie again.
"He taught me to consider judges to be people," said Washington lawyer Elizabeth Medaglia, a former law clerk. "He has self-confidence, but not an ego that gets in the way of whatever job he's trying to do. His sense of himself seems to be within, rather than something that the robe gives him. He can listen."
In 1976, Harris wrote the legally important Eddie Bethea insanity decision in which he rejected the theory that defendants should be able to claim a "diminished" mental responsiblity for their acts.
"It was clearly a win for law enforcement," said Joel M. Finkelstein, Bethea's attorney. "He made insanity law in this jurisdiction an all-or-nothing defense. It foreclosed its being raised in a number of cases, and where it is raised, the chances of obtaining an acquittal are less."
"He doesn't have an antidefense attitude," said assistant public defender Stephanie Duncan-Peters, a former Harris law clerk. "I don't know if conservative is the word, but he vests a lot of authority in trial judges. He tends not to want to second guess them . If it's a judgment call -- as long as the trial judge didn't go off the deep end -- he'll tend to go along with him."
But when a judge overturned the city's prostitution laws in 1976, claiming they discriminated against women and violated free speech, Harris overruled him and rebuked the judge for imposing his personal views.
"He is fully entitled to such a belief," Harris wrote. "However, the judgments involved properly are to be exercised by the legislature."
In 1971, Harris presided over the potentially-explosive trial of eight antiwar protesters arrested in the May Day demonstrations. Praise for Harris's judicial temperament in that case came from a surprising corner: Ralph J. Temple, then legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which defended in the case. "Our attorneys were satisfied that he conducted a fair and objective trial at a time of highly charged emotions in a highly charged case," Temple recalled.