President Reagan made his first judicial selections yesterday, choosing a high-level prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office and the first Hispanic to be D.C. Superior Court judges.
The nominations of Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry F. Greene and Ricardo M. Urbania, a Howard University law professor, appeared to represent somewhat of an accommodation of members of the city's old-line legal establishment, who urged the president to appoint a prosecutor to the bench, and others, who urged Reagan to follow affirmative action in filling seats on the local bench.
White House counsel Fred Fielding said the choices were based solely on the candidates' qualifications and that no bargain or compromise had been struck.
But the naming of Greene and Urbina was taken by some observers as the first indication that Reagan intends to look toward traditional courthouse legal experience in the naming of judges, rather than trying to shaply add to the number of women and black judges, as did President Carter.
Urbina was one of the two candidates for the Superior Court bench who was strongly supported by D.C. Mayor Marion Barry when Urbina and Dorothy Sellers, a practicing attorney here, wre nominated by Carter to the two vacanies. However, Reagan routinely withdrew two nominations upon taking office.
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] officials consulted with Barry and other city and court officials about the nominatins. Barry, according to a source, did not oppose Greene's nomination.
"They listened," one senior aide to Barry said of the Reagan officials. "The wishes of the city were taken into consideration; this decision evolved from it."
Greene, 39, heads the U.S. Attorney's Office Superior Court Division.
He received strong backing for the appointment from U.S. Attorney Charles F.C. Ruff and some senior court officials for his legal and administrative abilities. Greene said he is "gratified and pleased" to be named.
Ironically, former White House counsel Lloyd N. Cutler recommended last fall that President Carter pick Greene. However, Carter chose Urbina and Sellers.
If confirmed by the Senate, Urbina, 34, will be the first Hispanic on the city's 44-member trial bench. He runs the successful Howard University Law School Criminal Justice Program, in which law students litigate misdemeanor cases in Superior Court. Urbina formerly was an attorney with the District's Public Defender Service, and was the 1979 Howard Law School "Professor of the Year."
Urbina said yesterday that he was "gratified at the fact that I have been acknowledged as suitable for the post and I'm looking forward to serving on the court."
Greene and Urbina will fill seats vacated by the late Edmund T. Daly and Norma Holloway Johnson, who was named by Carter to the U.S. District Court.
Reagan now must fill four additional D.C court vacancies created last week with the retirements of Superior Court Judges William S. (Turk) Thompson, Leonard Braman and Fred L. McIntyre, and D.C. Court of Appeals Judge George R. Gallagher. The D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission currently is recruiting 12 candidates to be recommended to Reagan for the slots.