The Republican chair of a House subcommittee has appealed a dismissal of his request for an investigation into Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson's choosing judges appointed by President Clinton to hear cases that are politically sensitive for Democrats.

Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), who heads the Judiciary Committee's panel on courts and intellectual property, renewed his August complaint and added information about three other cases in a letter yesterday to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Coble is permitted to ask for further review under D.C. Circuit rules.

"Johnson bypassed the random case-assignment process in four campaign finance cases potentially embarrassing to the President, the DNC, and Democrats generally, and one case involving President Clinton's close personal friend Webster Hubbell," Coble wrote.

According to court administrative records, in 1998 Johnson bypassed the random process in six of the 405 cases. Five of the six were the criminal cases of four Democratic fund-raisers--Charlie Trie, Pauline Kanchanalak, Mark Jiminez and Howard Glicken--and former associate attorney general Hubbell. The sixth 1998 case was a D.C. government corruption case.

Johnson declined to comment yesterday, but in a letter to the Washington Times last summer she said she is authorized to bypass the random selection process in cases that are "protracted and complex" to "handle expeditiously high-profile criminal cases with unique demands on judicial resources."

Coble's previous request was rebuffed by U.S. District Judge Stephen Williams. In a Nov. 17 opinion, he deemed Coble's complaint "frivolous," saying that it was not surprising that Johnson chose Clinton appointees since only four of the 12 judges on the circuit weren't Clinton appointees. Also, the judges Johnson appointed had light caseloads.