There were cheers in the legal crowd over an administrative law judge's recent ruling that attorneys who represent most of the city's indigent criminal defendants violated no antitrust laws when they walked off the job for higher pay a year ago.

But the decision also left some mixed feelings among the trial lawyers and had the Federal Trade Commission staff vowing to ask for a review by the full commission.

"Thank God they're going to appeal," said Karen Koskoff, president of the D.C. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association.

Koskoff is one of the strike leaders who thinks Judge Morton Needleman's ruling did not go far enough. Needleman found that "there was no harm done" by the strike because the lawyers' demands were supported by city officials. Koskoff and others were hoping for a favorable finding on their claim that the job action was protected under the First Amendment.

The defense lawyers, who had their salary raised to $35 an hour, are concerned about how the courts will view any future job action, a possibility considering that their counterparts across the street in federal court recently got a pay hike to $60 an hour.

"It's very unusual to win even at this level, and the opinion was very supportive of our motives," said Ralph Perrotta, past president of the lawyers group. "I think it's unfortunate that none of the constitutional claims that we made for the activity we engaged in were upheld."