Close Menu

Main Content

Judge Michael P. Barnes


Michael P. Barnes was appointed to the Court of Appeals of Indiana in May 2000 after long service as the St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney. He was retained on the Court by election in 2002 and 2012 and served as Presiding Judge of the 3rd District from 2009 through 2011.

In 2012 he wrote 144 majority opinions for the Court of Appeals.

Judge Barnes was born and raised in rural Illinois. He earned a B.A. in History at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, IA in 1970 and received his J.D. in 1973 from the University of Notre Dame Law School.

He practiced law from 1973-78 at the South Bend law firm of Voor, Jackson, McMichael and Allen, while also serving as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. Voters chose him in 1978 to be the St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney, an office he held for 20 years over five elections.

While prosecutor, he oversaw a staff of 65 and spearheaded development of the CASIE Center for child victims of physical and/or sexual abuse, which continues to serve the community.

Judge Barnes also created a domestic and family violence unit in the Prosecutor’s office and launched a pretrial diversion program for nonviolent misdemeanor offenders that served as a model for successful state legislation. The domestic and family violence unit focused solely on crimes against women and children, including abuse and neglect.

Judge Barnes personally tried more than 25 murder and other major felony cases while overseeing a staff of 12 to 15 deputy prosecutors.

His efforts to collect delinquent child support payments garnered more than $100 million for children in St. Joseph County. For those efforts, he received the Regional Director’s Citation in 1989 and 1998 for innovative and effective child support enforcement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and in 1995 received the State Director’s Award for Outstanding Child Support Program from the Indiana Family & Social Services Administration.

While Prosecutor, Judge Barnes was elected President of the National District Attorneys Association (1995-1996), Chairman of the Board, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (1982-1983, 1992-1993), President of the St. Joseph County Bar Association (1992-1993), National Board of Trial Advocacy (1995-1996), National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women (1997), Chairman of the Board of Regents, National College of District Attorneys (1997-1998), American Prosecutor’s Research Institute (1997-1998), and various other professional and civic organizations.

The Indiana Victim Assistance Network honored him with its Special Advocate Award in 1989, and in 1998 he received the Eugene “Shine” Feller Award from the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

Judge Barnes supported a wide range of community organizations, especially those that serve vulnerable populations. He was a longtime supporter of the LOGAN Center’s annual Nose-On campaign and in 1986 received its Joseph J. Newman Award for Committed and Outstanding Advocacy on Behalf of Developmentally Disabled Individuals.

He also served on the boards of the St. Joseph County Chapter of the American Cancer Society and the Alcoholism Council of St. Joseph County.

Judge Barnes was a member of the Indiana Bar Foundation, the St. Joseph County Bar Association, the Indiana State Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association.

Judge Barnes was married to Alberta Edwards Barnes, a retired educator.  They have two sons. Tim is an attorney in Washington, D.C.  He and his wife, Dawn, are the parents of Benjamin Patrick and John Walter Barnes. John is a TV producer for NBC Sports.  He and his wife, Bess, are the parents of Addison Emily and Corinne Jordan Barnes. Ben, John, Adie, and Corinne are, of course, the world’s most perfect grandchildren!

Judge Barnes lived in South Bend and was an avid baseball fan and reader.

Judge Barnes retired from the Court on June 15, 2018 and served as a Senior Judge for the Court of Appeals until his death on May 22, 2020.

Retirement Ceremony Webcast