U.S. Attorney General Lorretta Lynch has appointed Billy J. Williams to be the top federal prosecutor in Oregon.
Williams stepped in as the acting U.S. attorney for Oregon in May when his predecessor, Amanda Marshall, resigned during an internal review of her conduct.
Williams has worked in the U.S. attorney’s office since 2000, and served as chief of the Criminal Division and the chief of the Violent Crimes Unit. He’s well liked by both prosecutors and defense attorneys, who describe him as honest, straightforward and hardworking.
“He’s a prosecutor that has a fair balanced lens. He always wants to do the right thing, for the right reason,” said Rod Underhill, the district attorney for Multnomah County and a former colleague of Williams.
“We’re pleased with the direction of the office under his leadership,” said Lisa Hay, the federal public defender for Oregon. “He’s proved himself to be a strong advocate for reform in areas like oversight of policing of people with mental illness.”
Whitney Boise, a top criminal defense attorney in Portland, was often Williams’ opponent in court when Williams worked in the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
“We were on opposite sides of a lot of different drug cases, violent crime cases, sex cases. He was always a really strong advocate, and someone you knew you could trust when you were in trial with him,” he said.
Boise said Williams’ low-key approach and folksy manner helped him win cases.
“Juries always loved him. I mean, there aren’t too many people who go by Billy instead of Will or William. I think that says a lot about who he is. He’s just a regular guy,” he said.
Williams is originally from Goldendale, Washington. He spent time working on a wheat farm in Washington and serving as a trial assistant in the Metropolitan Public Defenders office in Portland before pursing a career as a prosecutor.
He graduated from Willamette University College of Law.
Williams will serve as U.S. attorney for the district of Oregon for the remainder of President Obama’s term in office.