Elizabeth Barnes, 32, was working as a government lawyer in Boston, where she served as an assistant regional counsel with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A native of Orchard Park, she had previously worked as a criminal prosecutor for the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office, near Boston.
After graduating with honors from prestigious George Washington University Law School, Elizabeth Barnes “could have made big money working at a large law firm,” her father said.
“But she wanted to go into government service, because she wanted to help people,” Richard Barnes said. “Liz was inspired by her mother.”
Her mom was Deborah N. Sorbini-Barnes, who died of cancer in 2006. Sorbini-Barnes, 51, was a popular and highly respected attorney who had prosecuted cases for the Erie County District Attorney’s office, the State Attorney General’s office, and finally, the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“Liz adored and idolized her mom, and I believe that is the reason why Liz always wanted to be a lawyer,” Richard Barnes said. “Even though Deb was a prosecutor, she was a very fair person. She had integrity. She always wanted a fair outcome for everyone involved in a case.”
His daughter was the same way, said Richard Barnes, who is now married to Erie County Judge Suzanne Maxwell Barnes.