Maryland Carey Law announces 2022 Alumni Awards winners

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is proud to announce the recipients of the 2022 Alumni Awards to be presented on Thursday, September 8 as part of Alumni Weekend 2022. This year, the law school is presenting the following awards: the Distinguished Graduate Award, the Mary Ellen Barbera ’84 Judicial Excellence Award, the Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award, the Rising Star Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Alumni Award Honorees are selected by members of the Alumni Board Awards Committee and confirmed by the Alumni Board, with leadership from the board’s Alumni Awards Committee. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be awarded to United States Senator Benjamin L. Cardin ’67. This award is given by the Alumni Board at the discretion of the dean and is not awarded annually. 

Cardin has been a senior United States senator since 2007. He is chair of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and a senior member of the Senate Finance, Foreign Relations and Environment and Public Works committees. He is the lead senate sponsor of legislation to prohibit racial profiling by all levels of law enforcement, as well as the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act. He is also the lead author of legislation to prohibit the use of deceptive practices and prevent voter intimidation in federal elections, and to restore the voting rights of returning citizens. Additionally, he is the author of bipartisan legislation to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Right Amendment (ERA). 

A 1967 graduate of the law school, Cardin began his career in public service in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967 to 1986, serving as speaker from 1979 to 1986. From 1987 to 2006, he represented Maryland’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Committed to ensuring that all Americans have legal representation, Cardin served as chairman of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation from 1988 to 1995 and is namesake of Maryland Carey Law’s Cardin Requirement through which all full-time day students provide legal services to people who are poor or otherwise lack access to justice.  

Among a host of awards and honors, Cardin holds honorary degrees from several institutions, including University of Baltimore School of Law; University of Maryland, Baltimore; Baltimore Hebrew University; Goucher College; and Villa Julie College (now Stevenson University). He has served on Maryland Carey Law’s Board of Visitors since 2016. 

“It is an enormous honor and privilege to bestow the Lifetime Achievement Award on our beloved alum Senator Ben Cardin,” said Maryland Carey Law Dean Donald Tobin. “Throughout his career, Senator Cardin has worked tirelessly to protect and uplift the people of Maryland and the nation through his extraordinary work in public service. Additionally, his continued dedication to the law school is a gift that deeply enriches our community.”  

The Distinguished Graduate Award is presented to a Maryland Carey Law alum who has achieved prominence through professional excellence and service to the community. This year’s recipient is Julia Doyle Bernhardt ’81.  

Bernhardt has been chief of litigation for the Maryland attorney general’s office since 2017. During her career, she has handled hundreds of appeals in the Maryland appellate courts. She has orally argued more than 200 appeals, including successful representation of the petitioner in the United States Supreme Court in the 2016 case Ross v. Blake, six arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and more than 130 cases in the Court of Appeals of Maryland. She has more than 230 published decisions in state and federal courts. 

“[Bernhardt] is extremely generous with her time and knowledge making everyone who works with her a better lawyer,” wrote nominator Ryan R. Dietrich ’04, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General of Maryland. “She handles cases with the highest degree of integrity and elevates the practice of law in each case in which she is involved.” 

Bernhardt graduated Order of the Coif from Maryland Carey Law in 1981. After completing a judicial clerkship, she joined the Maryland public defender’s office, moving to the attorney general’s office in 2007. 

Twice recipient of the Alexander Cummings Award, the attorney general’s office’s highest award for appellate advocacy, Bernhardt has been highly decorated throughout her career. At the public defender’s office, she received the Capital Defense Award for Outstanding Performance in Capital Litigation and the Award for Outstanding Service to the Office of the Public Defender. In 2019, she was named the Maryland State Bar Association Litigator of the Year. 

The Mary Ellen Barbera ’84 Judicial Excellence Award is presented to an alum who exemplifies the highest standards of judicial excellence, displays extraordinary courage, energy, and tenacity in the handling of controversial and difficult cases as well as embodies strength of character, service, and competence as a jurist, lawyer, and public servant. This year’s winner is the Honorable Sally D. Adkins ’75.  

Judge Adkins was appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals by Gov. Martin O’Malley ’88 in 2008 and retired from the bench in 2018. On the Court of Appeals, she chaired the Advisory Committee to Explore the Feasibility of Maryland’s Adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination. Previously, she was a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals from 1998 to 2008. 

After graduating from Maryland Carey Law with honors in 1975, Judge Adkins joined Adkins, Potts & Smethurst, becoming a partner in 1982 until she was elevated to associate judge on the Wicomico County Circuit Court, serving from 1996 to 1998.  

Judge Adkins has served as president of the Wicomico County Bar Association and president of the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland, eastern shore chapter. She was on the board of directors for the Legal Aid Bureau; Coastal Hospice; Mid-Delmarva YMCA; E. S. Adkins & Co.; Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Salisbury, Maryland; and Organize, Unite, and Revitalize (OUR) Community, Inc. 

Her many honors and awards include being named a co-recipient of the Rita C. Davidson Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Maryland, and a recipient of the Dorothy Beatty Memorial Award for significant contributions to the advancement of women’s rights from the Women’s Law Center of Maryland. 

“Judge Adkins’s contribution to the law in Maryland—as a judge on the circuit court, the Court of Special Appeals, and the Court of Appeals—is exceptional,” said the Honorable Andrea M. Leahy, Judge, Court of Special Appeals of Maryland. “I have long marveled at Judge Adkins’s legal acumen, dedication to the law, and commitment to public service.” 

The Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award is presented to an alum who has demonstrated significant and substantial contributions to furthering ideals of public service in the law. This year’s winner is retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert G. Bracknell ’99.  

Bracknell has been an assistant legal advisor at NATO’s Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT) in Norfolk, Virginia since 2014. A retired Marine lieutenant colonel (OF-4), his military duty took him to California, Germany, Virginia, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Washington DC (The Atlantic Council of the United States), North Carolina, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  

Bracknell’s public interest work has focused on mitigating the effects of armed conflict on noncombatants; accountability for military standards violators; the development of international law norms in future conflict, including emerging technologies such as AI, unmanned systems, space, cyber, and hypersonic weapons; and emerging concepts, including urban warfare and the impacts of sea level rise and climate change on the future of conflict. 

He is a fellow with the Carnegie Council on Ethics in International Affairs and the Royal Society for the Arts, and a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. He is also chair of the Virginia Beach Investigation Review Panel and Personnel Board and vice chairman of the Commission to Investigate the May 31, 1999, Virginia Beach Mass Shooting.  

“Rob Bracknell’s dedication in the practice of international law to protect victims of war and his commitment to municipal oversight make him a compelling and worthy candidate for the Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award,” wrote nominator Brian Bouffard, Supervisory Trial Defense Attorney, Military Commissions Defense Organization. 

Graduating from Maryland Carey Law with honors in 1999, Bracknell also holds an LLM from Harvard Law School. He served on the Maryland Carey Law Alumni Board from 2014 to 2018. 

The Rising Star Award recognizes a recent graduate whose exemplary contributions of service and leadership, either professionally or at Maryland Carey Law, have brought credit to the graduate and this institution.  

This year’s winner is Anya Anton Marino ’12. Marino instructs Harvard Law School’s LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic, which engages in nationwide impact litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, and public education on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community’s most marginalized members. She frequently partners with community members, advocates, non-profit organizations, medical providers, and governmental entities to advance LGBTQ+ rights. Her scholarly interests involve gender discrimination, queer and gender theory, statutory and constitutional construction, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. 

A 2012 graduate of Maryland Carey Law, Marino began her career clerking for Associate Judge Michele D. Hotten during her tenure on the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland and worked in private practice litigating employment discrimination, wage and hour, and whistleblower matters. In 2019, she joined the ACLU of Florida as a staff attorney, rising later to its deputy legal director in 2020.  

In that position, she oversaw the legal department’s voting rights litigation and litigated LGBTQ+ and First Amendment cases. Marino was an integral member of the ACLU’s litigation team challenging legislative and executive efforts to suppress 1.4 million Floridian’s voting rights.  She also led the ACLU of Florida’s ongoing litigation to invalidate the governor and Florida legislature’s 2021 anti-protest act, arguing it was racially motivated, overbroad, and vague in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. During this time, she also taught advanced legal writing and appellate advocacy at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law. 

Marino was the first openly transgender woman of color to serve in any senior legal position throughout the ACLU’s federation of national and affiliate offices and is the first transgender woman of color to teach at Harvard Law School.  

“[Marino’s] experience as an attorney and educator, her dedication to gender and racial justice, her commitment to magnifying the voices of the overlooked, and her visible, vocal leadership in the LGBTQ+ rights movement continue to be a source of pride for [Maryland Carey Law],” wrote nominator Nicole K. McConlogue ’10, Associate Professor and Clinic Director, West Virginia University College of Law. 

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