An article in Metro Saturday on a D.C. Court of Appeals prostitution ruling should have said Judge John M. Steadman joined in the dissenting opinion, rather than incorrectly reporting that another judge had done so. (Published 11/10/87)

A decision last year by the District's police department to stop arresting women in high-prostitution areas who waved down cars or beckoned men has been made permanent by a sharply divided D.C. Court of Appeals.

In a 5-to-4 decision that was being watched closely by police, the full court invalidated a 1982 special order that allowed police to charge women with prostitution even though the arresting officer had not heard any discussion about a fee or seen any indication of such an exchange.

Police suspended that policy last year after a three-judge panel of the appellate court dismissed two other prostitution convictions in October 1986 because the arresting officers had not heard any reference to money. Police officials said yesterday they had hoped a decision by the full court would enable them to resume the practice.

Prosecutors said the ruling will not affect any pending or recent cases because of the earlier suspension of the practice. Police currently are arresting prostitutes only if the arresting officers are solicited or overhear an actual solicitation.

"We were hoping they would rule in our favor," said one high-ranking official in the department's morals division.

Judge John A. Terry, writing for the majority, called the special police order unacceptable and said it was based on an "unconstitutional premise" that all the elements of a crime need not be proved.

Terry said that although the women involved in the five cases before the court "looked and perhaps acted like prostitutes . . . that is not enough to sustain a conviction."

Terry was joined in the majority opinion by Judges Julia Cooper Mack, Theodore R. Newman Jr., John M. Ferren and Judith W. Rogers.

In the five cases before the court, the arresting officers testified that the women repeatedly approached men or waved at passing motorists in the 14th Street NW area, engaging them briefly in conversations. In some cases, the women left with the men. In all the cases, however, the officers said they did not hear the women discuss a fee.

In a sharply worded dissent, however, Judge Frank Q. Nebeker chided his five colleagues for "affect{ing} ignorance of the 'world's oldest profession.' " He pointed out that in other crimes circumstantial evidence can be used to prove an offense occurred.

Nebeker was joined by Chief Judge William C. Pryor and Judges James A. Belson and John M. Ferren.

The special police order was issued in 1982 shortly after the D.C. Council amended its prostitution statute to expand the definition of prostitution to include repeated beckoning. The majority said the police department had incorrectly interpreted the amendment to exclude having to hear or witness a financial exchange.