One prospective juror planned to climb the Himalayas. Another had a mother gravely ill. The man with the jaywalking ticket gave his promise that he could clear his mind of that outrage in reaching a verdict. Many, weighing deeply held beliefs, said they would do their best to disregard them and decide the case on the merits of the evidence alone.

All questions, great and small, had an airing in Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's federal courtroom yesterday. As the first week drew to a close in the drug and perjury trial of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, Jackson was nowhere near finished selecting a jury -- and ready to take a fresh look at his plans.

Jackson first intended to conduct individual examinations of all 250 prospective jurors called to hear the mayor's case. He thought it would take him a week. Instead, a week found him stranded halfway through the G's in his alphabetized list, with 79 panelists interviewed and 171 still to come.

Yesterday Jackson shifted gears. Beginning next week, he announced, prospective jurors will be chosen randomly, not alphabetically, from the list, and he will stop qualifying new jurors on Friday. On Monday, June 18, lawyers for the prosecution and defense will make their final cuts from the panel -- and the trial will be set to begin.

A spokeswoman for Barry, meanwhile, denounced "repeated rumors that {Barry} is seeking an agreement with prosecutors" and discounted suggestions from the mayor's friends that he is on the verge of announcing a decision not to run for reelection.

"He has not made a decision on reelection plans," press secretary Lurma Rackley said in a statement read to reporters outside the courthouse. Close associates of the mayor, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that Barry might announce that he would not seek another term as part of an effort to reach a plea agreement with U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens.

Rackley, who said there is "no official plea bargaining underway," declined to say whether there is unofficial plea bargaining and would not elaborate on her prepared statement.

In Courtroom 2, this week's selection proceedings have been aimed at creating a pool of qualified jurors after excusing panelists biased for or against the mayor and those with urgent personal business outside court. The lawyers will be able to make peremptory cuts, for any reason they like, from among qualified panelists who remain.

But because peremptory cuts are limited, both sides continued yesterday to persuade the judge to disqualify prospective jurors they did not like. Some of the cases, the judge said, were very close.

Jennifer Durkin, a white law librarian, acknowledged to the judge that she would come into the trial with the belief that Barry was "probably guilty." Asked whether she could disregard that view and decide the case solely on the evidence, Durkin paused. "I think so," she said, but it would be a struggle between her intellect and her emotions.

"In the struggles you have," defense lawyer R. Kenneth Mundy asked her later, "which prevails usually, the emotional side or the intellectual side?"

"The emotional," she replied.

But Judge Jackson declined to excuse her, saying she had promised to do her duty as a juror.

Another juror, a gravelly voiced black man who appeared to be in his fifties but whose full name could not be heard when the judge read it in open court, went through most of the standard interview without tripping alarms from prosecution or defense. He'd heard of the case against the mayor -- as all the panelists had -- but had come to no firm conclusions. He had been robbed, he said, and he had been the victim of discrimination in his life, but he would not allow either fact to upset his equilibrium as a juror.

When Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard W. Roberts probed further, however, the man said he thought "racial and political considerations" may have played a role in the mayor's prosecution. Jackson then stepped in, asking the man whether he would obey instruction that any such considerations would be "legally irrelevant" to the case.

"Well, it wouldn't be irrelevant to me," the man said quietly.

But this man, too, was qualified as a juror. "I'm going to play my hunch," Jackson said, denying the prosecutor's motion to dismiss him. "I think he is an honest and conscientious juror."

The scene outside the courthouse had the atmosphere of a rehearsal. With days yet to go before the trial begins in earnest, the square outside the courthouse was a largely empty gallery.

Barry made each entry and exit with a flourish of waves and smiles, as if to a crowd beyond the cameras. But the cameras were nearly alone.

"You had a couple of tourists lost on the way to one museum or another and some cameramen and what appeared to be Marion Barry waving to the throngs," said Harry Jaffee, a reporter for Regardie's magazine who is writing a book on the Barry era.

About two dozen microphones, taped together like a bulbous electronic bouquet, marked a permanent interview station in an area that reporters have begun to call "Barryland."

"It's one big press conference waiting to happen," said Joan Gartlan of WUSA-TV (Channel 9).

Shortly before the noon recess yesterday, a group of about two dozen people calling themselves Citizens for Marion Barry and alternately Citizen's Committee on Constitutional Government gathered in front of the microphones to denounce pressure on Barry to reach a plea agreement.

News-starved reporters squeezed around the group, which included the Rev. George Augustus Stallings Jr., whose controversial break with the Roman Catholic Church has been the subject of numerous news articles. Another member of the group, a lawyer who recited the street address of his office for the rolling cameras, declared that Barry would be acquitted if he represented him. The leader of the group, the Rev. Robert Hamilton Jr., told reporters the group represented about 75 members of the clergy.

Before the news conference was finished, the Rev. James L. Bevel announced another news conference for Monday, when he said he would convene a "citizens grand jury" to investigate the Barry investigation.

Among those outside the courthouse yesterday was Daniel Butler, a Northeast Washington resident and close friend of Barry's who has been named as one of 19 co-conspirators.

Butler, in an interview, said he did not know any of the other people named as co-conspirators, and he said he thought the case against Barry was unfair.

"They all came together, representing the government, to get a man who happened to be the mayor of this city," Butler said. "The government has overreached . . . and there were various ways to move this forward, even if it meant death to the mayor, which they were prepared to have let happen. Only by the grace of God it didn't."

Staff writer Michael York contributed to this report.