Lawyer Edward Kearney flung his arms out in dramatic gestures, paced the floor with measured steps and piled stacks of legal documents on the hearing room table of the D.C. Taxicab Commission's adjudication panel. He was out to take away some of the commission's newly acquired power.

At issue was the commission's jurisdiction over cases involving tickets issued to hackers during a recent police crackdown on illegal drivers called Operation Facelift. Kearney, representing a group of cabdrivers, maintained that drivers contesting the tickets should be heard at the city's Bureau of Traffic Adjudication, where such cases were heard before the taxicab commission was formed in June.

Kearney held up a pink traffic ticket written by a D.C. police officer against one of his clients and pointed to the information on the back that told the recipient to go to the traffic bureau to appeal the ticket.

"Like a bullet lodged in the heart, these tickets are lodged in the BTA," Kearney declared as he pressed his case, calling the bureau's instruction to his clients to go instead to the commission "a runaround" and "a denial of due process."

Lawyer Bennett Hecht, representing the hackers office, which is governed by the commission, briefly argued in a mild-mannered tone that the commission is the rightful body to hear the cases because the legislation creating the commission gave it that authority.

"Nobody has been denied due process," Hecht said. "The back of the ticket {only creates} an inconvenience."

Hecht won a unanimous decision from the three commissioners chosen from the commission's adjudication panel to arbitrate the case.

For Chairman Arrington L. Dixon, it was an important victory for the commission and reflected a significant departure from the way such matters were handled by the commission's predecessor, the Hackers License Appeal Board.

The decision shores up the authority of the commission, which had been eroded in recent weeks by squabbling between members and the chairman over who would control the commission.

The use of lawyers by the commission to represent its interests and those of the hackers office is seen as an improvement over the way the earlier board operated, said Dixon and Donald Anderson, acting supervisor of the hackers office, which is charged with issuing licenses.

"There is no doubt that it has helped us a lot," said Anderson, who was supervisor of the hackers office from 1981 until June.

"We used to lose most of our cases, but now we prevail in more than 90 percent of them."

Anderson said he has testified often in the past seven years in complaint cases brought against his office by cabdrivers and in cases brought against drivers by customers.

"Because we didn't have a lawyer working for us, the lawyer for the cabdriver would get away with just about anything," he said.

Anderson recalled a case of a cabdriver accused of rape by a customer.

"That driver told me that he had sexual relations with the woman," Anderson said. "But when it came to the hearing, his lawyer followed a line of questions which did not allow me to speak to what I had been told. I just couldn't say it."

Anderson said the lawyer prevailed in that case, but he expects the results would be different now because of the lawyers who now represent the commission.

Kearney, who represented four cabdrivers yesterday who had been turned down for a renewal of their licenses, won two and lost two.

He said he plans to appeal the jurisdictional dispute he lost earlier in the day to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Kearney said he regretted having some traffic hearings at the Traffic Adjudication Bureau, at 65 K St. NE, for non-cab related matters, and having cab commission hearings where the commission meets at 2101 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE.

"I had to cancel 20 cases at BTA to be here," he said. "I won't be back. My business is with the BTA. I predict the police will stop writing tickets when they find out they have to come over here."