Middletown native, former football star appointed Superior Court judge in California

A former standout football player at Middletown High School is making his mark in the judicial arena.

Ryan Wells, a 1998 MHS graduate who later played at Stanford, was appointed last week to be a Superior Court judge by California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Today’s appointment is extremely special to my family and me because of all the hard work and sacrifices I made to get through law school, pass the bar, and prosecute complex criminal cases as a District Attorney for over 10 years,” he told the Fresno Bee newspaper. “It was a challenging, and rewarding adventure. The appointment gives me a feeling of accomplishment and excitement.”

Wells, 40, has served as a senior deputy district attorney at the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office since 2012. He’s part of a special team of prosecutors who handle homicide cases.

The Democrat will fill the vacancy of a new position created on Sept. 24, 2019.

District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp told the newspaper that as a prosecutor Wells has proven to be a “dedicated public servant with a keen sense of justice.”

His father, Isaac Wells, told the Journal-News that his son is “an aggressive person” who sets and accomplishes goals.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes another major move in five or 10 years,” he said. “As a father, that’s something to be excited about.”

Wells will become one of five Black judges out of nearly 50 serving on the Superior Court bench in Fresno County. The Judicial Council of California, the policy making body of the California courts, has made increasing the diversity of California’s judicial officers one of its goals.

Demographic data compiled by the council last year shows that 65 percent of judges in California are white, while Black judges represent 8 percent of the total, Asian judges are 8 percent of the total and Hispanic judges are 11 percent of the total.

Wells served as a deputy district attorney in Contra Costa County from 2010 to 2012 and was a legal editor at Lexis Nexis from 2009-10.

He earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University where he was also a receiver and special teams player for the football team. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leading kick-off return specialist.

He then earned his law degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law.

Wells and his wife, Christina, have two children: son Blake, 9, and daughter Blair, 4.

About the Author