When Judge Reyna Morales puts her mind to something, nothing can stop her.
Moving to the United States at the age of 16 knowing no English, Morales learned the language and put herself through college and law school, truly helping pave the way for women and immigrants alike.
She served as a public defense attorney for more than 23 years, then moved into her role as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge, where she is the first Guatemalan-born judge on the Wisconsin bench. Morales is currently assigned to the Children’s Court.
“I like hearing the kid’s perspective – children process experiences completely different than adults and they have different insight as to the world we live in,” she said. “It is an honor to be a judge and a recipient of the award. I hope it is a sign we are moving forward – not long ago I would have been mistaken for a defendant, an interpreter or a probation office – now there is no doubt as to the position I hold within the courtroom.”
Melissa Moy, deputy court clerk for Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court-Criminal Division, understands that Morales’ contribution to the community is immeasurable.
“Judge Morales’ creative and holistic approach in rehabilitation for youth greatly aids in mitigating recidivism,” she said. “Judge Morales is an innovative, inquisitive and deep thinker who seeks to potently work with youth and their families for the betterment of them and ultimately our community. Her devoted character inspires others to reach their fullest potential despite the limitations and traumatic experiences before them.”
Outside of the courtroom, Morales is involved with the Diversity Recruitment Committee and Diversity Reception Committee for Marquette University. She is also the vice president of the board of directors for the Siena Retreat Center and is an associate member of Felmers Chaney Advocacy Board.