U.S. Justice Department selects Auburn judge to lead international training

King County District Court Judge Matt Williams - Courtesy photo
King County District Court Judge Matt Williams
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) and U.S. Department of State have selected King County District Court Judge Matt Williams to lead judicial training sessions in Eastern Europe.

Williams is the primary Judge assigned to the King County District Courthouse in Auburn.

Williams is being dispatched to Tirana, Albania for two weeks where he will work with members of the USDOJ, the U.S. Embassy, as well as local judges and prosecutors in conducting anti-corruption and counter human trafficking training for judges and prosecutors.

One aspect of the program will focus on judges in Albania. Another section will implement an imbedded anti-corruption program into the Albania School of Magistrates. The Albanian School of Magistrates trains and certifies each new generation of Albanian Judges.

Williams volunteers most of his free time to similar projects. Williams has led projects in Eastern Europe, South America, Africa, and in the Middle East. He is part of a select group of U.S. judges and attorneys that volunteer their time to building the "Rule-of-Law" throughout the world

"Effective justice systems are a key ingredient in creating sustainable peace in parts of the world that struggle with ethnic, racial, and religious conflicts dating back thousands of year," Williams said. He described the challenges that emerging democracies face in creating effective justice systems.

"Justice is the natural enemy of organized crime, terrorism, and corruption. Not surprisingly, corruption, terrorism, and organized crime are also the biggest challenges faced by those who work within any justice system. This is especially true in those cultures where corruption is not only accepted, but is viewed as a natural part of the economic landscape. Rule of Law work requires patience, perseverance, and a long term view. There are no quick wins, and there are many setbacks. Ultimately, we need to build justice systems that don't require outside support, that support the stability of that local democracy, and which are consistent with and driven by the local cultural values."

Williams went on to express his belief that lawyers in the U.S. can learn a lot from stepping outside of their normal frame of reference and seeing our justice system through the eyes of those who many not possess the freedoms and rights that the U.S. takes for granted.

"Ultimately, the protection of public safety is Job One for any system of laws," Williams said. "That includes creating and maintaining a system of justice that protects the public safety and civil liberties without creating martyrs. It also means having a civil system of justice where people know that they will be treated fairly without having to resort to street justice. That is part of what makes our system of justice the gold standard for the rest of the world."

Williams has served as an adjunct professor of law at Seattle University for 22 years where he teaches trial advocacy. Williams is the chair of the Auburn Rotary Club International Service Committee.

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