The U.S. Court of Appeals last night directed lawyers involved in the perjury trial of former deputy White House chief of staff Michael K. Deaver to show why the jury selection process in Deaver's trial should not be conducted in public.

The order was issued after lawyers for several major news organizations complained that U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson was conducting most of the questioning of potential jurors in the Deaver case in a jury room, away from reporters and the public.

The appeals court order directed lawyers for Deaver and independent counsel Whitney North Seymour Jr., his prosecutor, to present arguments by 10 a.m. today on why the court should not reverse Jackson's jury-selection process and direct him to comply with the terms of a 1984 Supreme Court ruling. That decision, in a California case, requires that most of the questioning of potential jurors be done in public.

Lawyers representing television networks, The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The New York Times twice appeared before Jackson yesterday, seeking to convince him to change the process, but he insisted his process was correct.

"In short, I am not going to alter the procedures that I have put in place," he told the lawyers during the second appearance.

The judge had promised at the outset to protect the potential jurors' privacy, and he said yesterday that he was convinced he had established a proper balance between the press' right to information and Deaver's right to a fair trial.

The media lawyers later told the appeals court that Jackson was wrong. The Supreme Court held in the 1984 California case that "there is an obligation on a trial judge to ensure that only sensitive information {involving a juror} is suppressed and only" when a prospective juror requests the information be kept confidential, said the appeal by Timothy B. Dyk, a lawyer for the television networks.

Jackson said previously his opinion that his procedures were proper was "reinforced" after lawyers for Deaver and Seymour publicly endorsed his actions. Seymour said having the potential jurors answer questions in public could have "a chilling effect" on their candor, and Herbert J. Miller Jr., who represents Deaver, said he believed the process was vital to protecting his client's right to a fair trial.

Later Jackson told the group of approximately 30 prospective jurors that those willing to be interviewed in open court should leave the jury room so others could be interviewed privately; two were questioned in public.

Jackson had told the lawyers during two hearings yesterday that reporters could have transcripts of the questioning furnished by a courtroom reporter. The transcripts cost $1 a page and typically are available the day after a court session.

"Everything is on the public record," the judge said during the first hearing.

Jackson said he found a "compelling interest" in shielding from public view the proceedings and jurors' views about their political affiliation, health, views on substance abuse and whether they had been crime victims.

The issue of the jurors' beliefs about alcoholism and drug abuse is considered sensitive by lawyers for Deaver, a lobbyist who is accused of lying to a House subcommittee and a federal grand jury about his contacts with Reagan administration officials after leaving the White House. In a sealed pleading, the lawyers have said the former White House aide may tell the jury his memory of the events was impaired by his abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs.