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Sandra I. Barnes

photo of Sandra Barnes

Sandra Barnes was born in New Hampshire but has made Maryland her home since 1978. In 1984, she matriculated at the University of Maryland School of Law. Sandra graduated first in her class, earned the Sobeloff Constitutional Law Prize, American Jurisprudence Awards in Constitutional Law, Contracts, and Property, and was inducted into the law school’s honor society – Order of the Coif.

Sandra has had an equally brilliant career as an Assistant Attorney General in the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. For the past 27 years, she has worked tirelessly in a variety of ways to protect Maryland’s children. She has handled thousands of child abuse and neglect administrative appeals in the Maryland circuit and appellate courts. Despite a crushing caseload and the many demands on her time for advice, she has voluntarily assumed sole responsibility for conducting annual and periodic training for local department of social services lawyers and staff on child abuse and neglect issues and writing, editing, and publishing the CC:News, a very informal, yet very informative and creative newsletter for attorneys and staff handling child abuse and neglect cases for the State. She has presented on child welfare issues at the American Association of Public Welfare Attorneys, an organization for which she now serves as President.

Sandra’s persuasive arguments in Maryland’s appellate courts have created ground breaking law related to abuse and neglect. Her most significant cases include: Montgomery County Dept. of Social Services v. L.D., 349 Md. 239 (1998); Charles County Dept. of Soc. Servs. v. Vann, 382 Md. 286 (2004); Cosby v. Department of Human Resources, 425 Md. 629 (2012); McClanahan v. Washington County Dept. of Social Services, 445 Md. 691 (2015); and Wicomico County Dept. of Social Services v. B.A., 449 Md. 122 (2016).

Sandra has been an influential voice in the Maryland Department of Human Services in the development of legislation to protect abused and neglected children. During the 2017 legislation session, she helped the Social Services Administration craft legislation to correct loopholes in abuse laws that were discussed by the Court of Appeals in the McClanahan and B.A. cases. She also helped craft legislation designed to bring Maryland into compliance with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, ensuring that local departments of social services can take reports of sex trafficking regardless of the identity of the person responsible for the child and expanding the definition of trafficking.

In recognition of her extraordinary and passionate commitment to protecting abused and neglected children, Sandra received the Attorney General’s Exceptional Service Award in 1995 and the Lucy Weisz Award in 2008.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2018.

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