By U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman
On March 13, 2018, Chief U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman administered the oath of office to U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams in Courtroom 16, shortly after Williams learned that President Donald J. Trump had signed his presidential commission. The U.S. Senate confirmed Williams’ nomination on March 7, 2018. A formal investiture will follow in June.
Williams, an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Department of Justice, was named the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon in May 2015, following the resignation of U.S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Williams as Interim U.S. Attorney in December 2015, and Chief Judge Mosman re-appointed him as Interim U.S. Attorney in February 2016. Prior to serving as U.S. Attorney, Williams was First Assistant U.S. Attorney, and had worked as the chief of the criminal division and chief of the violent crimes unit. Scott Bradford, the current chief of the fraud unit, reflects that “Bill’s steady hand during times of transition within the office and his tireless outreach within the community have kept the important work of this office moving forward.”
Before his federal service, Williams served as a senior deputy district attorney in Multnomah County. As a deputy district attorney, Williams prosecuted major crimes of violence, including aggravated murder, adult and child sex offenses, domestic violence, narcotics trafficking, vehicular homicide, and officer-involved shootings. Scott Asphaug, the current First Assistant U.S. Attorney and former criminal defense lawyer, notes that Williams and he have “been both opponents and partners in court” and “Bill has always been the same—a straight shooter who respects the law.”
During his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Williams has served on several Attorney General advisory subcommittees, including the Native American Issues Subcommittee, Civil Rights Subcommittee, Border & Immigration Subcommittee, Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, and the Marijuana Issues Working Group. Williams is a member of the Ninth Circuit Fairness Committee and the District of Oregon Implicit Bias Steering Committee. Williams received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Washington State University in 1981, and his law degree from the Willamette University College of Law in 1989.
Prior to entering the management ranks at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Williams earned his reputation for hard work and building relationships when he served as the district’s Indian Country Assistant U.S. Attorney and Tribal Liaison. Kelly Zusman, current chief of the appellate unit, reflects that “[p]articularly with his many years of work handling Indian Country cases, Bill handled extremely sad and difficult cases with compassion for the victims and the affected community; he was unflappable.”
Williams’ experience, work ethic, and thoughtful leadership have earned him the respect and support of his team of assistant U.S. Attorneys. He has grown that team during his tenure by hiring experienced assistant U.S. Attorneys from other districts. Thomas Edmonds, current chief of the drug unit, states that he “can think of no more distinguished, hard-working and steady of colleagues than Bill Williams.” Zusman adds that “[f]or those of us who work with him, Bill inspires us to do more and to be better lawyers by recognizing our work and appreciating our time and effort….It’s an honor to be a part of his team.”