The Council for Court Excellence joins The Post in congratulating the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for being the nation's fastest federal court, handling cases in one-third the time of the national average {editorial, Dec. 30}.

But while we give praise to the Eastern District of Virginia let's not forget about a court closer to home with a record almost as good -- the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In speed and efficiency, the D.C. district court ranks ninth among the 94 U.S. district courts across the country. The elapsed time in Virginia from the filing of a civil suit to the beginning of a trial averaged five months. The elapsed time in the D.C. district court averaged six months -- not far behind.

Keep in mind that the federal courts in Washington cope with a tremendously varied caseload. Federal agencies feed into these courts, and their cases are as broad and as complicated as the entire U.S. government. While we hail the Eastern District of Virginia's splendid record let's not lose sight of this other record right under our noses. SAMUEL F. HARAHAN Executive Director, Council for Court Excellence Washington