Kimberley Motley is an international human rights and civil rights attorney from Milwaukee. Motley is the first foreign attorney to practice in Afghanistan since 2008. Motley has been in the news lately for representing the family of Alvin Cole, a teenager killed during a police shooting outside Mayfair Mall. She joined Libby Collins for WTMJ Conversations, Part Two. Click to hear Part One of their conversation.
Transcription provided by eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: In all of the work that you’ve done, you have accomplished so much personally, as you said, you wrote a book, Lawless: A lawyer’s unrelenting fight for justice in one of the world’s most dangerous places, you’ve had a documentary film about you, Motley’s Law. We didn’t even mention you were Mrs. Wisconsin, you have — you have done so much in a very short time. Kimberley, what does the future hold for you?
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: Well, I mean, I think there’s a lot of things that I want to continue to do. I think these cases particularly in Wauwatosa and Kenosha are extremely important. You know, I’m from Wisconsin. I’m from Milwaukee, so I love Wisconsin. As annoying as Wisconsin can get to me sometimes, I love Wisconsin, you know, and I want to do my part where I can to make sure that justice is achieved for whatever clients I represent. So, I want to continue my international practice, I want to continue my practice in the U.S. And, you know, I’ve been talking to people about maybe running for office at some point, that may be a possibility of —
LIBBY COLLINS: Oh, I gotta — I gotta pursue that, because there’s kind of a similarity here. You are the daughter of an African-American man and an Asian woman, our new vice president happens to have that same —
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: Yeah, Asians are in. Asians are in.
LIBBY COLLINS: Yeah. How do you identify with that and how — have you heard from Kamala Harris at all?
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: No, I haven’t heard from her yet. But, no, I mean, I really — I think it’s amazing that Kamala Harris is our new vice president, I’m really, really happy about that, very supportive of that. You know, I think that her background as an attorney general and as a senator is going to make her — and as a, frankly, strong woman, it’s going to make her an extremely successful vice president. Hopefully, one day we’ll be saying, you know, President Kamala Harris, I’m certainly going to be on that train for sure, but, yeah, we’ll see. I think she’s definitely a great inspiration for everybody, not just, frankly, women of color but just for women, just — and for men, for people, you know, that she sure is the epitome of what a lot of people talk about the America dream. You know, Kamala really embodies that, I think. And I think we are very lucky as a country to have her as a vice president.
LIBBY COLLINS: Well, obviously, as a kid, you know, going back to when you were in school, I’m sure you studied Black history, think about what that moment on the capitol steps meant, not just — not just for Black history in the United States but for all of American history.
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s an amazing historic event that we all should really appreciate. And, unfortunately, I didn’t really learn Back history in school, I learned it when I graduated on my own, but I think that moment — there’s so many Black history moments that we have in American history that just aren’t celebrated and aren’t taught, but I certainly hope that that is highlighted in our historic books moving forward, because that was a special moment for America.
LIBBY COLLINS: Well, you know, you said you’re going to run for office, and I’m sure Ms. Harris, Vice President —
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: No, I didn’t say I would, I said maybe. You’re saying I would, I’m not — I’m saying people are talking to me about it I’m thinking about it.
LIBBY COLLINS: Oh, I —
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: You know, it’s not something I can take lightly, so we’ll see.
LIBBY COLLINS: No — no doubt about it, but I think there’s a lot of parallels between your career and Vice President Harris’. If anything, you certainly have, I would say at this point, a lot more international experience than she did when she became a senator and now vice president. I mean, does that make you think that, you know, your aspirations could be higher than, say, a county or a state office?
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: Oh, well, I mean, definitely — I’m not even thinking about a county or state office to be honest, if I would run. It would have to be something — I’m not trying to sound, you know, like, oh, I’m too good for that. I think we need great county and state politicians, it’s just not something I’m interested in maybe being. I’m thinking more like on the attorney general level, to be completely honest. Because I think — I mean, my background is undeniable, it’s in law and justice. So, it just makes sense that that is what I would maybe — it’s a big maybe — maybe consider.
LIBBY COLLINS: Kimberley Motley, possible attorney general for the State of Wisconsin. Now, you’ve — you’ve represented a lot of defendants. If, by any chance, you would be in that position of an attorney general, how would what you’ve done all these years influence being the highest judicial position in the state?
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: Well, I think while I’ve also represented a lot of defendants for sure, I’ve also represented hundreds of victims. And I think also in representing victims, you put on more of a prosecutorial hat in that representation. You know, like, for instance, these three families, right, we want Justin Murphy to be charged, right? That’s from a prosecutorial standpoint. That’s how we’re coming at it as opposed to from, you know, from a defense standpoint being representing someone that’s charged with, for instance, a homicide. So, I think that definitely, you know, can help in a position like that. I think what I would — I’m not trying to, like, create a campaign ad here, I kind of feel like you’re trying to trick me into some type of campaign ad, but I do think that my multicultural mobile experience understanding different people’s walks of life, understanding communities and things like that, is very, very important. And having sort of a pulse on the button for the community, that’s extremely important for that position, you know, if you’re going to be an attorney general to understand how charging someone can impact the community, how not charging someone can impact the community, and also understand that justice is different in different communities. Because the justice system in Milwaukee, for instance, is very different from the justice system in Wauwatosa or Waukesha or Racine. You know, as an attorney general, you need to understand that. You need to understand you’re not just there sitting in Madison, focused on the community in Madison, but you need to understand all the dozens and dozens of counties that you’re essentially presiding over. And I think that global experience has helped me to be able to evaluate very quickly different communities and to understand from a justice perspective how to successfully fight different cases as I hope they should be fought in court, if that makes sense.
LIBBY COLLINS: One last question, Kimberley, do you want to announce now that you’re going to run for attorney general in Wisconsin?
KIMBERLEY MOTLEY: I said maybe, and people brought this to me so, no. No, thank you, but I appreciate the platform that you gave me to do that.