Gerhard A. Gesell, the federal judge who presided over the bribery and conspirary trial of Dominic F. Antonelli Jr. and Joseph P. Yeldell, is widely regarded as among the most astute of U.S. District court judges here.

At the same time, Gesell is viewed by most attorneys practicing in his court as even-handed in his treatment of defense and prosecution lawyers, as assessment that appeared to be supported in the 17-day Antonelli-Yeldell trial.

The 68-year-old Gesell, a graduate of the Yale Law School and a long-time partner in the prestigious Covington & Burling law firm here before becoming a judge in 1968, frequently admonished both defense and prosecution attorneys for standing too close to the witnesses they were asking questions.

When defense attorneys complained that Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard L. Beizer eas asking repetitive questions of Yeldell, Gesell reprimanded Beizer for his "argumentive" questions, but also said that Yeldell's answers to the prosecutors' questions often were unresponsive.

As the case neared the end, Gesell told the government and defense lawyers that he would give each of them 3 1/2 hours to present closing arguments, and specifically noted that he would not allow ghe prosecutors to make their rebuttal statement yesterday morning, just before the jury started considering the evidence.

Gesell has presided over numerous important cases over the years. This year alone he has ruled that Democratic mayoral candidate Marion Barry could run for mayor while retaining his City Council seat, dismissed columnist Jack Anderson's multimillion-dollar lawsuit against former president Richard M. Nixon because the journalist refused to reveal his confidential sources and participated in a three-judge panel's ruling that Foreign Service officers cannot be forced to retire at age 60.