Dorothy Gilliam's June 7 column {Metro} berated U.S. Attorney Jay G. Stephens for not knowing the meaning of the phrase, "you got his nose open," made by Mayor Marion Berry to Rasheeda Moore at the Vista Hotel on the night of the FBI sting operation.

Phrases take on different meanings over time. Mayor Barry's comment may have had the meaning of an intense love relationship once, but times have changed. I remember when a "joint" was a bad place to go. TOM DAVIS Arlington

The Post states in a June 8 editorial "in the case of Marion Barry it seems to us there could be merit in a reasonable -- and stiff -- settlement offered by the prosecutor in lieu of continuing the trial."

I disagree. The citizens of this city and the nation have been exposed to headlines, articles, TV and radio reports and comments for years on the activities of the mayor of Washington. These reports have not always been complimentary. The public is indeed polarized. If the court accepts any guilty plea, we the people will never have the benefit of hearing the facts and the defense to the charges.

The editorial says that having the facts today "could well be an extremely painful and traumatic experience for the city -- one that worsens already edgy relations among its many racial, economic and other groups." I contend that with a plea bargain the long-term damage to the city and the system will be even more far reaching.

Adults have an unnatural ability to rationalize facts and situations depending on their respective positions. Children have a natural sense of justice. They will not be able to understand any "plea bargain" settlement. There is a message here for the citizen today and a message for future generations. Why do you lack the strength to give the proper message?

The people have the intelligence and the strength to hear and learn the truth. JOHN P. S. PUGH Garrett Park, Md.

Walter Fauntroy and Jesse Jackson, with all due respect, sirs, will you two kindly butt out please! Marion Barry's trial is not an issue to be negotiated as if we were talking about a corporate takeover. This is a case that must go to court for many reasons, not the least of which is that our mayor seems to have gotten himself caught in U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens' trap. Now it is up to a court of his peers, not his friends in the backroom to decide his fate.

This case is more than just about Mayor Barry's innocence until proven guilty. It is also about what lengths anyone or any agency can go to prove that. You could dog Mother Theresa that long and hard and come up with something to smear her good name, if that was what you set out to do.

The most important thing to be learned here is not so much about the character of our mayor, which we already know all too well anyway, but the nature of the beast that pursued him. That is, whatever becomes of Mayor Barry is hardly as important as it will be for all of us to see what lengths the U.S. government will go to keep powerful black leaders in check.

Even now Mayor Barry is serving us as a reminder of the consequences of becoming too comfortable and content once you think you've got it made, of forgetting who and where you are. Future and present black leaders of America, take note! CHERISSE GARDNER Washington