Lawyer with Filipino roots is Utah attorney general | Global News

Lawyer with Filipino roots is Utah attorney general

/ 11:45 PM January 11, 2014


LOS ANGELES—Utah’s new attorney general, the first member of an ethnic minority to hold a state position, is of Filipino heritage.

Sean Reyes, a 42-year-old topnotch lawyer, is the son of immigrants with Filipino and Spanish roots, according to the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (Naffaa).


“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,” said Naffaa, in a statement congratulating Reyes.


However, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) described Reyes as Hispanic. The influential organization, in a statement applauding Reyes’ appointment, described him as “one of the first Hispanic lawyers to become a partner at a major Utah firm.”

The new attorney general played a crucial role in reestablishing the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and cofounded its education-targeted foundation, the USHCC said.

Reyes was also involved in a national commission established by former President George W. Bush to advise him on Hispanic American issues.

Reyes’ official biography said he “was born to immigrant parents of Spanish, Hawaiian and Asian heritage” while some newspaper articles mentioned his Filipino roots.

“I am humbled by the responsibility and the weight of the Attorney General’s office,” Reyes said in a statement posted on his office’s web site. “I respect what it stands for and I’m deeply appreciative of the trust Governor (Gary R.) Herbert has shown in me.”

Before his appointment, Reyes served for more than a decade as a small claims judge and two years on the governing body of the Utah State Bar.


As president of the Utah Minority Bar, Reyes received numerous state and national awards.

He got his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, graduating summa cum laude, and earned a law degree with honors from University of California, Berkeley.

A Republican, Reyes will soon lead the fight to defend the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado has denied Utah’s motion for a stay on federal Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling that struck down a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court granted the state’s request for a temporary halt on same-sex marriage while it appeals Shelby’s ruling that legalized such unions.

Reyes vowed to restore public confidence in the attorney general’s office previously headed by John Swallow, who resigned amid allegations of bribery and influence peddling.

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Reyes, who ran for attorney general in 2012 but lost, would serve out the remaining two years of Swallow’s term.

TAGS: attorney general, Filipino-American, Lawyer, Migration, Sean Reyes, United States, US, Utah

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