D.C. Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti, the city government's chief lawyer, is one of three candidates for an opening on the bench of D.C. Superior Court.

Spagnoletti, 42, has had his eye on a judgeship for at least a few years, but when he took on his current job in May 2003, he indicated to Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) that he was committed to staying through the mayor's current term. The new opportunity comes more than a year before the mayor's race, and Williams has yet to declare whether he will seek reelection.

A prosecutor for 13 years before joining the mayor's Cabinet, Spagnoletti was on the short list for the Superior Court bench once before, in 2000, while he was working at the U.S. attorney's office. His current job has given him a much higher public profile.

In addition to Spagnoletti, the D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission chose Andrew Fois, a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, and Carol A. Dalton, a D.C. Superior Court magistrate judge, for consideration by President Bush. The opening was created by the appointment of Judge Noel A. Kramer to the D.C. Court of Appeals.

The president can pick one of the candidates offered by the commission or reject the slate. The president's choice is subject to Senate confirmation. The selection process can be lengthy -- lately, it has taken as long as a year.

Dalton, 55, has been a magistrate judge in the family court division of Superior Court since 2002. Before that, she was director of the court office that coordinates the work of attorneys who represent parents, caretakers and children in abuse and neglect cases.

Fois, 47, was the Justice Department's assistant attorney general for legislative affairs from 1995 to 1998. Before that, he held other positions at the Justice Department and on the House Judiciary Committee. Since 2000, he has served as a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, an organization that tracks military and other security issues.

Spagnoletti took over what was then known as the corporation counsel's office when the city's legal arm was suffering from a heavy caseload, a staffing shortage and slumping morale. He made organizational and personnel changes and succeeded in having the office renamed the attorney general's office, a title he said was more fitting of its responsibilities.