Season 2 – Episode 5 ·

What You Need to Know about Zoom Trials with Judge Matthew Williams

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Perhaps no jurisdiction has conducted more Zoom jury trials since the start of the pandemic than King County (Seattle), Washington. In this episode, Ben and Rahul speak with King County Superior Court Judge, Matthew Williams, about lessons he has learned managing Zoom trials, including his experience conducting jury selection. trial, witness examination, cross examination, use of exhibits, and his observations concerning the key differences between Zoom and in-person trials.

Judge Matthew Williams

Photo of Judge Matthew Williams

Matthew W. Williams is a Superior Court Judge for the State of Washington. Almost all of his time off the bench is devoted to Rule of Law and AntiCorruption Initiatives in pre/post conflict nations and emerging democracies around the world. He has such led initiatives in Central Asia, South America, Africa, the Middle East, and within the former Soviet Republics. He also has been invited to provide training and consultations for justice systems within those regions in culturally specific advocacy, case-management, transparency/ “open courts”, and judicial process and demeanor. Since 1985 he has served as an operational consultant and trainer in complex information gathering and analysis environments.

Judge Williams teaches at the Washington State Judicial College and serves as member of Washington State Superior Court Judges Association (SCJA) Ethics and Education Committees. He serves as a trainer and presenter for the SCJA and the Washington State District and Municipal Judges Association (DMCJA) as well as the National Judicial College (NJC), and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Judge Williams serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute for the Global Understanding of the Rule of Law (IGUL), and as an Advisor to the Civil Jury Project at NYU School of Law. He is a member of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Post-Pandemic Planning Workgroup, and has provided consultation and training to judges throughout the United States on every aspect of remote/virtual operations. He was selected as 2021 Trial Judge of The Year by the Washington Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). 

Judge Williams has taught Trial Advocacy at Seattle University School of Law (University of Puget Sound) since 1991. In 2020 he developed and conducted the first fully virtual Trial Advocacy program at Seattle University, which included both traditional in-person advocacy skills as well as the emerging skill sets associated with remote advocacy. Judge Williams has served many terms as faculty team leader for the renowned Kessler-Eidson Trial Techniques Program at Emory School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, from 2000-2016 he served as a Director of the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) Trial, Deposition, and Public Service Programs. In 2016 NITA awarded Judge Williams the Prentice Marshall Award for the Development of Innovative Teaching Methods.

Judge Williams began his legal career(s) with the Attorneys General of Nebraska, Iowa, and Washington State. He handled death penalty and criminal appeals matters as well as complex commercial and tax litigation. He left State service and supervised Federal drug, weapons, and aviation enforcement. He then served as the Supervising Attorney for the City of Seattle’s Major Civil Litigation unit. He left public service in 1994 and became the Managing Attorney of a mid-sized law office until 2003. From 2003 to 2010, Judge Williams served as a general manager for a national insurance carrier where he managed multiple business units across the nation while implementing best practices and data driven decision making. Along the way, he served as a Special Disciplinary (Ethics) Counsel for the Washington State Bar Association, as a member of the Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct (ELT) Task Force, and as a Trustee of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers (WDTL). In 2010 he was elected to the King County District Court. He was elected to the King County Superior Court in 2016.

Judge Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Nebraska (1980), and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska School of Law (1983). He has logged thousands of hours as pilot-in-command. He holds the rank of Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has served as a martial arts and personal defense instructor.

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