The Honorable Kevin R. Barnes

The Honorable Kevin R. Barnes



During Black History Month, we are encouraged to reflect on the giants of history, such as Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall, who profoundly shaped the world and served as inspiration for many. It is equally crucial to acknowledge the ripple effect of their inspiration and celebrate the individuals presently making significant strides in their own right. With three decades in the military alongside his legal career, Dayton’s own Administrative Law Judge of the United States Social Security Administration, Kevin R. Barnes, is such an individual who has exemplified commitment to service and dedication.

Born and raised in Dayton, Judge Barnes followed in the footsteps of one of his inspirations, Thurgood Marshall, by attending Howard University, where he ultimately graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. It was at Howard where Judge Barnes began his military service, “I found the ROTC scholarship and applied for it. I remember when I got that letter and was walking down the street. I opened it up and discovered I was chosen as a four-year scholarship recipient. Upon completing his undergraduate education, Judge Barnes attended the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where he obtained his Juris Doctor degree. While the scholarship is what drew Judge Barnes into the service, his “passion and commitment for public service is what kept him” and led him to expand his military knowledge and expertise by obtaining a Master of Strategic Studies at the United States War College.

Throughout his career, Judge Barnes has been motivated to succeed, but he understands that failure is necessary to achieve success. With this mindset, Judge Barnes was able to jumpstart his legal career in the private sector; however, within a few years, he made the jump to the public sphere as an Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Dayton. Alongside his civilian legal career, he simultaneously held positions as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Army Reserves. Judge Barnes gained significant experience in numerous assignments, including command of two Legal Operations Detachments, and held the position of Colonel in the Army. For “33  years, 7 months, and 22 days,” Judge Barnes continued his two-track career, jettisoning the country at least one weekend a month until his recent retirement from the Army in December 2023.

When Judge Barnes eventually found his way to the bench, he described his judicial philosophy as an “[individual who is] a judge, but [does] not judge.” Before serving in his current role as an Administrative Law Judge, he served 15 years as a Magistrate Judge with the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. Throughout his time on the bench, Judge Barnes has strived to conduct himself with fairness, empathy and “make people feel like… we’re all human.” After his tenure in the Juvenile Division, Judge Barnes secured his current position as a Social Security Administrative Law Judge in 2016.

When asked, “What’s next?” for the judge whose legal career finally converged to a single track, Judge Barnes, once again, responded with the service of others. Outside of his passions for writing, traveling, and spending quality time with his family, he is now looking to his next opportunity in how he can serve the community.

Pickrel, Schaeffer & Ebeling proudly highlights Judge Kevin R. Barnes as a shining example of excellence, resilience, and service, embodying the values Black History Month seeks to honor and celebrate.