The District's Judicial Nomination Commission has sent the White House three candidates for the seat on the D.C. Court of Appeals, the city's highest court, vacated a month ago by U.S. Attorney Stanley S. Harris, according to knowledgeable sources.
The nominees, whose names were transmitted on Saturday, are D. C. Superior Court Judge Sylvia Bacon, local attorney J. William Doolittle and assistant U.S. Attorney John A. Terry.
President Reagan has 60 days to select one of the three and then the U.S. Senate must confirm the nomination before the vacancy on the nine-member court can be filled. If Reagan does not act within that time, the commission may select its own nominee to send to the Senate.
The commission has been criticized by conservative members of the Washington legal establishment, who felt they were excluded from decision-making during the Carter administration and who felt the commission had excluded qualified candidates because it wanted to appoint liberals, women and minorities to the bench.
But all of the latest nominees are white and each has Ivy League credentials. Bacon, 50, is a Republican appointed to the bench by President Nixon in 1970. She attended Vassar and Harvard Law School.
Terry, 48, a Yale graduate who attended Georgetown Law School, is a veteran prosecutor. He is chief of the appellate division of the U.S. Attorney's office, a post he has held since 1969. He had spent five years before that as an assistant U.S. attorney. Terry declined to say if he was affiliated with any political party.
Doolittle, 52, graduated from Harvard Law School and clerked for former Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter. He worked in the solicitor general's office, the Justice Department and was assistant secretary of the Air Force before going into private practice in 1969. He is a partner in a nine-member firm called Prather Seeger Doolittle & Farmer. Doolittle also would not comment on his political affiliation.
Both Bacon and Doolittle had been nominated previously by the commission. Bacon was nominated in 1977, but current D.C. Court of Appeals Judge John Ferren was nominated by the White House. Doolittle was a candidate last year but the nomination went to current appeals court judge James Belson.
The commission considered about 15 names for the seat, including about a dozen who had been considered previously for other judgeships. At least 10 candidates were considered "very serious" contenders for the nomination, according to reliable sources.
Criticism of the commission's selections resulted in the introduction of a bill last December by Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (R-Md.) that would dilute the commission's power to nominate judges and allow D. C. judges to live outside the city. The bill is still pending, and Mathias' office said last week that no hearings have been scheduled.