On behalf of the National Bar Association, I am writing to express the organization's concern and disappointment over comments made by U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson at a Harvard Law School forum regarding the trial of Mayor Marion Barry {front page, Oct. 31}.

Judge Jackson stated that he "believes four jurors were determined to acquit regardless of the facts ... they obviously did not tell the truth during jury selection when questioned about possible bias."

Such condescending statements by a sitting federal judge about a pending case should not be tolerated by either the bench or the bar. Judge Jackson's actions are particularly deplorable given the fact that the Barry trial imposed on the city of Washington a myriad of controversy, which caused much racial divisiveness among its citizens. The judge's statements overreached and did not further sound judicial policy, particularly since Mayor Barry's case is on appeal.

Canon 3, subsection 6, of the American Bar Association Code of Judicial Conduct ("Judicial Code") states that a judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court. This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court. Canon 4 states that a judge may engage in quasi-judicial activities, such as lecturing, if he does not cast doubt on his capacity to decide impartially any issue that may come before him. Canon 5 states that a judge should regulate his extra-judicial activities, including lecturing, to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial duties.

Judge Jackson's statements may have impaired his ability to live up to the letter and the spirit of Canons 3, 4 and 5. The judge has failed to abstain from public comment about a possible future trial of Mr. Barry, should the latter's appeal of the misdemeanor count prove successful. Judge Jackson, whose reputation until now has been above reproach, may in the eyes of the community have cast doubt on his ability to decide any future trial involving prominent black Americans. In essence, Judge Jackson has failed to regulate his extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his judicial duties. ALGENITA SCOTT DAVIS President, National Bar Association Washington

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson should be commended, not condemned, for sharing his thoughts about the Marion Barry case with students at Harvard Law School on Oct. 30.

Judge Jackson was the first guest speaker of the newly formed Criminal Justice Institute, of which I am director. CJI is Harvard's major new program of education, practice and research in matters of criminal law and policy. Judge Jackson was also the guest of my course "Criminal Justice Administration," which examines the roles and relationships of agencies and individuals within the criminal justice system.

When Judge Jackson generously accepted my invitation to deliver two talks on the Barry trial, he did so with an understanding that he would be speaking to law students in an educational setting and would offer insight into how a key decision-maker in a criminal case thinks and acts. With refreshing candor, Judge Jackson shared his thoughts about the case with a standing-room-only crowd of 200 students and fielded many probing and critical questions.

Moreover, Judge Jackson did not give a speech but responded to specific questions raised by students. Reasonable minds may differ with some of Judge Jackson's opinions. Indeed, his comments about excluding certain members of the public from the trial and his belief in the prosecution's case, notwithstanding the views of the fact-finders, raise troubling questions. Still, Judge Jackson said nothing contrary to well-established law or judicial practice. However one feels about the substance of the judge's remarks, his willingness to shed the tired taboo against public comment -- and, by implication, public education -- must be applauded.

I find it curious that The Post criticizes Judge Jackson for his remarks in this educational forum {"Judge Jackson on the Barry Trial," editorial, Nov. 1} yet goes on to express support for many of his actions. I would expect The Post to applaud judges who are willing to discuss their views in a public forum, which neither diminishes the rights of the accused nor deters legitimate prosecutions.

It was obvious from the frank exchange between Judge Jackson and the students that an important learning process was initiated. The Post's criticism of the judge will only serve to discourage such an exchange of ideas -- ideas which might lead to improving the deplorable state of affairs in our criminal justice system.

CHARLES J. OGLETREE Assistant Professor of Law Harvard Law School Cambridge, Mass.

The Post's Nov. 1 editorial commenting on U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's remarks at Harvard University's law school prompts this short response from me.

With due respect to Judge Jackson, I do believe he has erred when he says some members of the Barry jury violated their duties and oaths as jurors when they chose not to convict Marion Barry of more and greater charges against him. In defense of our jury in the Barry case, may I say that included in the very instructions given to that jury and approved for criminal trials in this federal circuit is one to the effect that even if the government has produced evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury "may" find the defendant guilty. The word "must" is not used, and thus it was not mandatory for the jury to find guilt. R. KENNETH MUNDY Washington The writer is Mr. Barry's attorney.