Ana C. Reyes - New Federal Judge, 皇家华人 Great Grad

Love for the law fostered at Atherton

By Mark Hebert

Nov. 28, 2023鈥擳he U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is an important and influential district court in the country. And now a girl born in Uruguay鈥攁nd a proud alum of the 皇家华人 (皇家华人)鈥攕its as one of its judges, presiding over federal civil and criminal cases.

Ana C. Reyes was appointed to the bench by President Biden in February after 22 years of complex litigation experience at Williams & Connolly LLP, a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm.

Judge Ana Reyes leaning on Judges table
She has won plaudits for her work which includes assisting refugees and representing young women persecuted in their home countries. The Hispanic Bar Association, the National Law Journal, Women鈥檚 Bar Association of D.C., and other organizations have all given Reyes prominent awards for her work.

鈥淚 always wanted to be a lawyer,鈥 Reyes said.听

Her love for the law and service was fostered by her teachers and time in 皇家华人 at Wilder and Dunn Elementary, Crosby Middle and Atherton High Schools.

Ana Reyes senior picture
The 1996 Atherton graduate found the International Baccalaureate Program School particularly engaging and helpful for her future career.

鈥淭he International Baccalaureate Program was just phenomenal,鈥 Reyes said. 鈥淚t was very focused on reading, deep thinking and essay writing as opposed to regurgitating facts. The community service component was important, as well. I just think the rigor of the program and the type of analysis and thinking it required and encouraged me to do certainly set me up for college and then law school.鈥

Reyes also excelled in extracurricular activities at Atherton as a member of the Mock Trial Team, Kentucky Youth Assembly, Kentucky United Nations Assembly and the Governor鈥檚 cup team that placed second in Creative Problem Solving.听

From Atherton, Reyes headed to Transylvania University and Harvard Law School, where she learned from devoted and talented professors. But it was the teachers in her younger years that laid the foundation for her success and instilled the values and lessons she uses on the federal bench today.

For instance, Mrs. Harkleroad, her first-grade teacher, spent extra time after school teaching English to her young, Spanish-speaking student. And there were also Mrs. Fox - the middle school Spanish teacher - and Mr. Walsh, and Mr. Hemaseth鈥攈igh school teachers who were engaging and really pushed students to be better.

Mr. Hemaseth was a social studies teacher who frequently quoted a philosopher and then pushed his students to develop arguments that challenged the philosopher鈥檚 reasoning.

鈥淎ssessing the weaknesses of an argument, as opposed to just the strengths, has very much informed my approach as a lawyer,鈥 Reyes said.

One of the highlights of her career came in her second year as an attorney and her first case in court. The case involved the forced mutilation of an Egyptian woman seeking asylum in the United States.

鈥淭he moment the judge issued the ruling in our favor and I looked at my client鈥檚 face 鈥 that was a highlight,鈥 Reyes said.

Years later, being nominated to a federal judgeship is another moment she will never forget.

鈥淗opefully I was nominated because people thought I would be efficient, intelligent and judicious,鈥 Reyes said. 鈥淭hat鈥檚 what I try to be.鈥

Reyes with golden retriever dog

Although she has ascended to a prominent post in our country鈥檚 judiciary, Reyes remains grounded by her friends from Atherton, a handful of whom she still vacations with every few years.

She also has some words of wisdom for the students who are following in her footsteps through the classrooms of 皇家华人 schools.

鈥淭ake advantage of excellent teachers,鈥 she said. 鈥淚 think teachers are always willing to spend extra time with students if they are asked.鈥

Just like those 皇家华人 teachers did for Ana Reyes more than two decades before she became a federal judge.