Iraline G. Barnes, 58, a retired associate judge of the D.C. Superior Court and a corporate executive and civic leader, died of a heart attack Nov. 26 at her home in Washington.
Judge Barnes held the distinction of being the youngest female lawyer nominated to the D.C. Superior Court and the youngest woman to sit on the court. She was 32 when President Jimmy Carter chose her in 1979 to be an associate judge and when she was sworn in Feb. 15, 1980.
D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Eugene N. Hamilton lauded Judge Barnes's work, saying she did an outstanding job presiding over tough probate and tax cases and serving in the criminal division and family court. She was interested in people and committed to resolving their disputes, he said.
"She had good judgment and good insights about the law," Hamilton said.
Judge Barnes was a "path-finding probate judge" who played a key role in reforming the probate code in the District, said D.C. lawyer Richard Gross, a real estate investment executive who worked with her after she left the bench. "She tried to bring some order, regularity and predictability to the probate process in D.C.," he said.
After retiring in 1990, Judge Barnes pursued a career involving government and corporate affairs. She also advocated for civil rights and women's rights and was active in the Washington community.
She was a vice president for corporate affairs with Pepco until 1997, supervising government relations, economic development and minority business departments. She worked as special counsel at Roseman & Colin LLP, heading the trust and estate department at the firm's Washington office.
In 2001, she became one of the founders of Property Funding Group LLC, a firm specializing in real estate finance for governments and nonprofit institutions, including colleges and universities.
At the time of her death, she was a director of Duane Morris Government Affairs LLC, a lobbying firm, with responsibilities for developing private sector and municipal government financing transactions, including bond issues and other public-private partnerships.
She was born Iraline Green in Springfield, Mass. She entered Howard University in 1966, bringing among other things her collection of Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary records. She graduated in 1969 and received her law degree in 1972 from the University of Michigan Law School.
Returning to the District in 1973, she clerked for Hamilton in D.C. Superior Court before becoming a trial lawyer in the Civil Division of the Justice Department. In 1975, she became an assistant U.S. attorney in the District.
Three years later, she was made an administrative judge on the board of Surface Mining and Reclamation Appeals, a division of the Interior Department that reviews cases arising from the 1977 Strip Mining Act.
She was a trustee for the SBM financial companies, where she was on the investment and audit committees and was known as an effective force in reckoning with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Judge Barnes was a member of the Chapter of Washington National Cathedral and a former member of the board of trustees of the National Cathedral School.
She was a past board member of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and Century National Bank and served on the community board of Providence Hospital. She also was on the board of Leadership Washington and was a member of the Links, which provides the Washington area with scholarships and community programs.
Judge Barnes collected African American and Caribbean art and was known for her gracious entertaining and her skill on the dance floor. She also was an ardent fan of gospel music.
Survivors include her husband of 30 years, Dr. James G. Barnes of Washington; two children, Monica Barnes Rohrbach and Jason Barnes, both of Washington; four sisters, Betty Davis of Oakdale, Conn., Katherine Mutcherson of Silver Spring, Phyllis Green of Newington, Conn., and Lorraine Green of Arlington Heights, Ill.; and a brother, Eli Green of Springfield, Mass.