BUTTE – When Debra Williams was elected Justice of the Peace for Butte-Silver Bow back in 2002, she never thought she remain behind the bench of 16 years.
“I was very fortunate people would elect me four times. I thank the people of Butte-Silver Bow,” said Williams.
For those who worked with Williams, who is retiring for public service, it’s not surprising she continued to win elections.
“She’s the most caring, compassionate person there is and when people came before her, she treated them with dignity and respect each and every time,” said Jimm Kilmer.
Williams believed in second chances.
“Most people are very good people, they just made a mistake, we’ve all made mistakes. We hope people learn from them and don’t do them again, but you try to give them as much help as you can,” said Williams.
Williams brought that help by establishing a DUI court that helped repeat drunk driver offenders through a treatment based program. Over the past 10 years, its helped many people get their lives back on track.
“People will come in an see us after they’ve graduated and tell us how much they enjoy their lives now and how better they are for it, so I think DUI court has helped a tremendous amount of people,” she said.
During her time on the bench, Judge Williams encounter many people who found themselves on the wrong side of the law, but it’s during those times she learned the most important quality a judge could have: Compassion.
“Some people don’t have as good of lives as other people or as lucky and blessed as other people, so you try and give them opportunities that they may not ever had before and you just hope that they make good decisions,” said Williams.
Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News