Fil Am Appointed As Attorney General

NEW YORK, NY – Placed in the eye of a legal storm of the state’s current issue with same-sex marriage is Filipino American Sean Reyes, Utah’s newly-named Attorney General. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) appointed Reyes on Dec. 23, 2013 following the resignation of John Swallow. He is the first Asian-American to hold a statewide post in Utah.

Reyes ran for Attorney General of Utah in 2012 against John Swallow. He lost the primary election with a margin of 69 to 32 percent. He was then elected as one of three candidates by the GOP State Central Committee on Dec. 14, 2013 to replace Swallow.

Reyes is the son of immigrants with Filipino and Spanish descent.  He was raised in Southern California where he obtained his law degree with honors at U.C. Berkeley in 1997.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in 1994.

“I am humbled by the responsibility and the weight of the Attorney General’s office,” Reyes said.  “I respect what it stands for and I’m deeply appreciative again, for the trust Governor Herbert has shown in me,” added Reyes.

Ed Navarra, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) conveyed the organization’s congratulations and best wishes to Reyes on his appointment on Jan. 6.

“As Filipino Americans, we are elated that one of our own has gained the distinction and honor of serving as Utah’s top law enforcement officer,” Navarra said. “We wish him well as he undertakes a challenging responsibility, one that requires leadership and legal skills, high professional standards and strong commitment to public service.”

Reyes’ appointment came amid a flurry of frenzied legal activity in which Utah is fighting to have Amendment 3 — which defines marriage as between a man and a woman — upheld as constitutionally valid by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, in a landmark ruling, struck down the law as unconstitutional.  Just moments after he was sworn-in, Reyed said the state is ready to file a request with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay in the federal court ruling.

Since the ruling, more than 900 same-sex couples have married in the state.

At his swearing-in ceremony, he vowed to “clean house as necessary until integrity is restored” and “create a culture change” as he set his procedural internal, external and policy priorities.  Included in his internal priorities are administrative and financial audits, a leadership assessment of the office’s current roster of lawyers as well as a pay upgrade for the rank and file, and bringing resources from the private industry to work in the AG office.

Before assuming the office of Attorney General, Reyes was General Counsel for eTAGZ, an up-and-coming Utah media and technology company.  He served for over a decade as a small claims judge and spent two years serving on the governing body of the Utah State Bar.

Reyes also served on board for “for-profit” and “non-profit” entities. He was an early supporter of the Utah Asian Chamber and helped establish its education initiative.  In addition to his legal career and volunteer service, Reyes has been very involved in Utah politics. He has served as a county, state and national (alternate) delegate for the Republican Party and a member of the State Central Committee (the governing body of the Utah Republican Party). He is currently a leader in his local precinct.

He was honored as the first-ever National Outstanding Young Lawyer by the American Bar Association, a distinction bestowed on one lawyer out of millions nationwide. Sean was also recognized as the Utah Young Lawyer of the Year, one of the forty most influential business leaders under the age of forty and the first recipient of Brigham Young University’s Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.
 
Reyes is married to Saysha. They are proud parents of six children, fie of whom were with him when he took his oath of office.

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PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDIT

Sean Reyes takes oath of office {Photo courtesy of Salt Lake Tribune)

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