Department 12 - Honorable Sandra A. Unsworth


Sandra A. Unsworth is a native Nevadan who has lived in Washoe County her entire life. She has strong ties to the community and has spent her life fostering those ties, as well as serving the public.

She received her B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada, Reno and her J.D. from the University of Puget Sound, School of Law (subsumed by Seattle University in 1994).

Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Unsworth spent 25 years managing her solo practice in Reno, Nevada. Initially, her practice was a mixture of family and criminal law, but over time her practice narrowed to primarily family law. She represented clients in a variety of contexts, including divorce, paternity, juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, adoption, termination of parental rights, child support, and minor and adult guardianships, giving her significant knowledge of all aspects of family law and family law proceedings. Judge Unsworth was appointed by various courts in Northern Nevada to serve as Guardian Ad Litem representing the "best interests of the child."

Early in her career, Judge Unsworth clerked for the Honorable Phyllis Halsey Atkins, the first female magistrate judge in the State of Nevada. After her clerkship, Judge Unsworth joined the Criminal Division of the Washoe County District Attorney's office as a deputy district attorney, prosecuting child and adult sexual abuse crimes in Washoe County where she tried numerous jury trials.

Judge Unsworth was appointed by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on November 8, 2019 to Department 12 of the Second Judicial District Court, Family Division. She understands the impact of the Family Court and how it helps to maintain the fabric of a community, even when adjudication results in families taking a different form. As a single parent, Judge Unsworth is cognizant that family law matters are so much more than just applying facts to the applicable statutes and reaching conclusions. She successfully navigates the volatile dynamics of a family law matter using her personal experience both as a practitioner and parent, as well as applying the laws of the State of Nevada. Family courts, at their best, recognize the tremendous responsibility that comes with rendering decisions about people's personal ties.