U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson suggested yesterday that if Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and Bishop George Augustus Stallings Jr. assure him they will abide by the court's rules of behavior, he would reverse his order excluding them from the Barry trial.

Jackson acted just hours after the U.S. Court of Appeals, ruling in the controversy, threw the decision back to him but sent a clear signal that he could not bar an individual from his courtroom "merely because {that individual} advocates a particular political, legal or religious" view.

Jackson, speaking in open court, set a hearing for this morning.

The judge said he did not want to conduct "an evidentiary hearing," but expected the two men to be present. "I want assurances from them that they understand the decorum that must be maintained in this courtroom, and that they will abide by the rules of that decorum," Jackson said from the bench.

Jackson also indicated that he might rearrange the seating in the courtroom. Spectators who come to court on passes provided by the defense -- as Farrakhan and Stallings had -- have been seated in the courtroom's front row. In legal arguments, Jackson had expressed misgivings about Farrakhan's and Stallings's presence in such a prominent position.

Arthur B. Spitzer, of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had challenged the exclusion of the two men, said Stallings would appear today and "make clear, as has always been the case, that he has no intention of being disruptive in the courtroom." Farrakhan could not be reached for comment. His counsel, Lewis Myers Jr., a Chicago attorney, is scheduled to appear at the hearing.

The swift appeals court ruling in the unusual case came yesterday after a three-day exchange of legal arguments. The controversy erupted last week when Jackson barred the two from the mayor's drug and perjury trial, asserting that their presence would be potentially disruptive and intimidating.

The local chapter of the ACLU quickly challenged the ruling, arguing that the exclusion unconstitutionally deprived Farrakhan and Stallings of their rights without giving them an opporunity to fight that deprivation at a hearing.

Outside the courthouse, Jackson drew fire from Barry supporters and others, including two organizations representing black lawyers, which charged that the "arbitrary and capricious order . . . smacks of racism."

Lawyers for Jackson defended his action in legal briefs, asserting that he rightfully excluded Farrakhan and Stallings because their presence in the courtroom would likely send silent messages of intimidation and racial animosity to jurors and witnesses. The arguments cited news reports of the two men's statements, in which both have alleged that Barry's arrest was racially motivated.

Yesterday, the appeals panel reaffirmed the wide discretion of judges to control their courtrooms and bar disruptive individuals, but noted that this must be balanced against the constitutional rights of citizens to attend criminal trials.

The appeals panel also sent a clear message to Jackson, asserting that no individual can be barred for his views -- "even a point of view that the district court or we may regard as antithetical to the fair administration of justice.

"Nor can an individual be wholly excluded from the courtrom because his presence is thought to send an undesirable message to the jurors except that of physical intimidation," the order stated.

Farrakhan has been the focal point of racial and political controversy for years. Stallings, a Roman Catholic priest for 15 years, broke from the Washington Archdiocese a year ago, calling it racist. He has since become a bishop in a new church he formed.

Ruling on a procedural point, the appeals court found -- as Jackson's lawyers had argued -- that Farrakhan and Stallings had failed to properly bring their arguments before Jackson prior to seeking review by the higher court. Thus, the appeals court said, it had no jurisdiction in the case and sent the issue back to Jackson for a hearing.

Spitzer claimed victory in the case, saying that the court clearly disagreed with Jackson's reasoning.

"A person may be a prominent person, may make controversial statements {and} the jurors may know who he or she is," Spitzer told reporters, "but that's not enough reason, the court of appeals said, to kick them out of the courtroom."

Jackson's lawyer, John D. Aldock, said he was gratified by the order, which reaffirmed the judge's discretion to control the court and remanded the case to him for a hearing.

Meanwhile, New York University law professor Stephen Gillers said in an interview that the ACLU won, and that the appeals court was practicing "judicial diplomacy" by giving Jackson a "friendly lecture" to signal its position on the issue. Gillers said the court was telling Jackson, "You can either do this now, or we can do it for you later."

The three-judge panel was composed of some of the court's more conservative jurists: Clarence Thomas, nominated by President Bush and the court's newest member; and Douglas H. Ginsburg and Laurence H. Silberman, both Reagan appointees.

Staff researcher Matthew Lee contributed to this report.