MSA SC 3520-13120
Angela Michelle Eaves was born on April 22, 1959, in Canal Zone, Panama. As the daughter of a noncommissioned Army officer, she had the opportunity to live in many places throughout her childhood, including Germany, California, New York, New Jersey, and Texas.1 In 1977 she was graduated from Copperas High School, located in the independent school system of the diverse community of Copperas Cove, Texas.2 Her education continued at the University of Texas, from which she received a bachelor’s degree in 1981. In 1986, she was graduated with a master’s degree in public affairs and a J.D. from the same institution.3
After being admitted to the Texas bar in 1987, Angela Michelle Eaves worked for two years as an assistant city attorney for Dallas, Texas. In 1989, Ms. Eaves moved to Harford County and was admitted to the Maryland Bar in 1990. Her first professional position in Maryland was as a lawyer for the Legal Aid Bureau in Harford County. As a Legal Aid, Angela Eaves strove to uphold the ideals of the mission of that institution, "to provide quality legal services to the State's poor through a mix of services, and to bring about the changes poor people want in the systems which affect them."4
Throughout the course of her career, Ms. Eaves would continue to traverse this current of ideology. The year 1993 found Angela Eaves in a new position from which to navigate these ideas. From 1993 until 2000, Ms. Eaves was an assistant attorney general for Harford County. In this role she worked to defend correctional officers and state officials in civil suits and took on child-support appeal cases for the Department of Human Resources. From 1995 to 1996, Ms. Eaves was on the Harford County Charter Review Commission. In addition, she served as a member of the Human Relations Commission from 1995 until 1997. Devoted to her work and dedicated to helping the less fortunate, Angela Eaves was awarded the Office of Attorney General’s Pro Bono Award in 1996.
Ms. Eaves was involved in several child-support appeal cases that helped establish important precedent. One such case was 340 Md. 480 Natasha Wills v. Randy W. Jones (1995).5 This case dealt with whether an incarcerated parent should be required to pay child support during the time of his/her imprisonment. The question of whether imprisonment because of voluntary criminal act constituted ‘voluntary impoverishment’ was also answered in this case. The Court of Appeals concluded that imprisonment did not result in ‘voluntary impoverishment’ but that imprisonment also should not result in termination of the child support obligation. Angela Eaves, assistant attorney general at the time, pointed out that this decision "prevents incarcerated parents from asking courts to outright terminate their support obligations. Our main argument has always been that no court can relieve a parent of the obligation to pay. Even if it is reduced to zero, the obligation is still there.”6
This precedent would be used in making opinions on similar cases, including 119 Md. App. 600 Gary H. Sowers v. Donna M. Reed (1998),7 another case upon which Ms. Eaves was counsel.
Besides such precedent establishing cases, she was also involved in several other sensational and controversial cases. While still with the Legal Aid Bureau, Angela Eaves worked on many child custody cases. One case that caught the attention of the press in 1992 involved a five-year-old girl’s mother, represented by Ms. Eaves, and the child’s father, a convicted sex abuser. The mother in this case had gone into hiding with the little girl in an effort to protect the child from the father. The father had been convicted in 1987 of sexually abusing his eleven-year-old stepdaughter. He was currently on probation for this conviction though he had been deemed rehabilitated. Ms. Eaves argued it would be detrimental to the child to give custody to the father given their lack in previous relationship. The judge awarded the father custody, finding that the mother “has a serious psychiatric problem.” This case, according to Chris Gorman, the Kentucky attorney general and as judged by Ms. Eaves eventual legal defeat, “provides us with unmistakable proof of the need to make the system more accountable to the needs of these young victims.”8
In March of 2000, Angela Eaves was again in the newspapers, this time under much more positive circumstances. On March 27, 2000, Angela Eaves was appointed as Associate Judge on the District Court of Maryland, District 9, Harford County. She replaced Judge Emory A. Plitt, Jr., who was elevated in November, 2000 to the Harford County Circuit Court. This appointment made her the first African American and only the second woman appointed to the bench in Harford County.9 Her appointment marked a move towards diversifying the bench in a county wherein minorities constitute fifteen percent of the 214,000 residents.10 Her appointment met with positive remark. The Harford County Attorney’s Legal Newsletter lauded her achievement, stating we are “happy to have her back in Bel Air, and we welcome the addition of a dose of Texas practicality to the already fine district court bench.”11 Dorsey Berndt, chief attorney for the Northeast Office of the Legal Aid Bureau, which represents clients in Harford and Cecil counties, said of Angela Eaves, “I think she’ll listen to people, and I’m excited about her taking the bench.”12
Listening to people is exactly what Angela Eaves has done during her term on the Harford County District Court. Angela Eaves keeps her ear to the pavement and her presence in the community. Besides her profession related involvement in the American, National, Texas State, Maryland State, Baltimore City, Monumental City and Harford County (where she is a member of the executive council) Bar Associations and the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys,13 Judge Eaves is actively involved in applying her ideals into practice. Angela Eaves is a Board Member of Home Partnership, Inc., a not-for-profit agency dedicated to helping Harford County residents achieve home ownership.14
Her status as the first African American judge on the Harford County District Court places her in the position of authority when issues of race arise. This is a position she holds highly. At an AMSAA Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Prayer Breakfast at which she was the guest speaker, Angela M. Eaves said,, "I promise I will do my part as a Harford County judge to ensure justice is color blind. Please do your part to make his dream our reality."15
As keynote speaker, she offered a similar challenge to a group of 175 students and their faculty at the 2000 Harford Equity Leadership Program, stating:
I think we are more like a salad bowl where the lettuce, the carrots, the cucumbers, the croutons, the tomatoes and all the ingredients work together –retaining their individual character –but joining to create a great salad. Each of you must confront stereotypes, reject stereotypical comments, and challenge others who may not even know what they have said encourages those stereotypes.16
One can only assume Angela Eaves has served us a mere appetizer compared to the great things she has for us to feast on in the future.
1. "Woman to join District Court:
Lawyer with history of public service to become Harford judge," The
Baltimore Sun, 27 March 2000.
2. Cooperas Cove Independent School District. (http://www.ccisd.com)
3. Maryland Manual on-line (http://www.mdarchives.state.md.us/msa/mdmanual/32dc/html/msa13120.html)
4. History of the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland. (http://www.mdlab.org/history1.html)
5. Natasha Wills v. Randy W. Jones, 340 Md. 480, 1995. accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
6. Brennan, Catherine, “High Court Rules Prisoners Can Seek Child Support Cut,” The Daily Record, 16 November 1995.
7. Gary H. Sowers v. Donna M. Reid. 119 Md. App. 600, 1998. accessed through Lexis-Nexis.
8. Bowers, Carol L, "Father awarded daughter, 5, despite history of sex abuse," The Baltimore Sun, 22 May 1992, 7E.
9. Women's Caucus of Maryland, "Women of Distiction." (http://www.academy.umd.edu/wc/womenofdistinction.htm)
10. Woman to join District Court," The Baltimore Sun.
13. “Congratulations to Newest Harford County Judge.” Legal Views, Vol. 1 No. 1, April 2000.
14. Home Partnership, Inc. (http://www.homepartnershipinc.org/about.html)
15. AMSAA Mosaic, January 2001. (http://www.amsaa.army.mil/eeo/Mosaic/mosaic_Jan2001.html#Block2)
16. Harford Schools Newsletter, November 2000. (http://www.co.ha.md.us/harford_schools/Newsletter/11-00/npage13.pdf)
Biography written by Maryland State Archives Summer 2001 Intern Joanna Berger.
Return to Angela Eaves' introductory page
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