Law School Associate Professor and Immigration Clinic director Maureen Sweeney will receive the Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation on December 7 at their annual awards reception.
The Cardin Award recognizes outstanding public interest attorneys who are regularly involved in providing, promoting, or managing civil legal services. She will share the award with Pamela Cardullo Ortiz of the Access to Justice Department, Administrative Office of the Courts.
Professor Sweeney has been on the front lines of immigration changes in Maryland since joining the faculty in 2004. She has studied the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, and has spoken and trained widely in the state on this topic. She is also the principal author of a chart for criminal defense practitioners on the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions Under Maryland State Law. She has successfully argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of an immigration clinic client who was in danger of being deported because of his past as a gang member, and also worked with her clinic students on behalf of unaccompanied minors from Honduras. In addition to the Immigration Clinic, she teaches a course called Practicing Immigration Law in Spanish, designed to help prepare students to practice law with Spanish-speaking clients.
“Professor Sweeney is a remarkable advocate, inspired teacher and outstanding role model for our students,” said Maryland Carey Law Dean Donald Tobin. “We are grateful for her service to so many, and thrilled that her dedication and effectiveness have been recognized by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation.”
Under Professor Sweeney’s supervision, Immigration Clinic students have won asylum and other protection for dozens of clients, saved others from deportation because of convictions, and developed legal arguments used to challenge deportation in a range of cases. In addition, the Clinic’s sustained work with the Office of the Public Defender of Maryland convinced that office of the need to hire an immigration attorney to advise its noncitizen clients. Clinic alumni have gone on to practice immigration law in firms and nonprofit organizations across the country, to clerk for immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), and to serve as staff attorneys for the BIA, in the Department of Justice, and at several federal Courts of Appeals.
Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Sweeney served as a staff attorney at Associated Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in Baltimore. Prior to that, she worked for the Migrant Legal Action Program in Washington, DC; Farmworker Legal Services of North Carolina in Raleigh, NC; and the Texas Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance in Houston, Texas.
She is a founding and current board member of the Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting Maryland immigrants through the coordination and enhancement of pro bono representation of low-income immigrants, community education, and advocacy on behalf of immigrants.