MARION BARRY is entitled to be a very happy man this morning. Compared to what he still faced until yesterday's conclusion of a trial that had captured the attention of this city and the world as well, he has had a great success. This, after all, is a man who until moments before, stood in danger of being officially adjudged a felon and of being sentenced to incarceration. Much of the court business is still to be resolved; there are decisions to be made still about the 12 undecided charges. But today Mayor Barry stands guilty only of one misdemeanor: possession of cocaine. At the same time he has been acquitted of one other misdemeanor charge.

The sum total of these decisions may not send the kind of neat, specific message that people, no matter what their predisposition, might have found easier to accept or reject. But the verdicts come from the efforts of 12 jurors who heard all the evidence without distractions or political pressures. The outcome is a product of the American system of justice and should be respected. Does such an outcome suggest that the entire prosecution and the ensuing trial were unnecessary or misguided? Was the ordeal of all involved really worth it? We think the answer is emphatically that it was.

This is true for the defense as well as the prosecution. Until all of this happened, the city was under the leadership of a man living a lie. Now Mr. Barry concedes this in his constant assertions of the number of days he has been drug-free and in his preoccupation with healing "my mind, body and soul." It is important to note that he counts from the day of his arrest. Had it not been for that arrest, this personal acknowledgment of drug use might never have come about at all. And the terrible situation would have continued in which the city -- its police, its drug-fighters and those resisting the inroads of drugs in the schools and neighborhoods -- would have been in the charge of a man himself a secret drug user. As a result of the whole enterprise, people have not been left to speculate on this abuse question, on the question of breaking the law, or on the need for a thorough investigation of all allegations.

So concerning the decision and the indecision as well, it is good that this process took place. There may or may not be more to come from the courts, but the city and its government do have continuing business to attend to -- beginning with acceptance of the verdicts that now stand and moving to repair the damage inflicted by what we know happened and the tensions and animosities it generated. There is every reason to believe that people across the city are ready for this mission.