|Sole Practitioner, since
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With nearly two decades of legal experience to her credit, Peoria criminal defense attorney Maureen Williams has earned a reputation as a tireless advocate who arrives in court prepared to argue on her client's behalf. Outside the courtroom, Williams' dedication doesn't flag. She's never too busy to answer her clients' questions and return their phone calls, even meet with them for a question/answer session.
"My clients are often worried and scared," says Williams. I'm happy when they call, because I can often alleviate some of their stress."
A Peoria native, Williams obtained an accounting degree from Creighton University in 1985 and then worked toward becoming a certified public accountant while employed by accounting firms in Peoria and Kansas City.
In 1988, Williams enrolled in the Hamline University School of Law, in St. Paul, Minn. At the same time, she worked for prestigious accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. Despite having to juggle the demands of law school and her work, she still made the dean's list and received the American Jurisprudence Award in Constitutional Law II, given to the student who scores the highest grade in class.
On entering law school, Williams envisioned a return to the accounting field after graduation. But then, just before her third year of law school, she began a 10-month stint as a law clerk in the Minneapolis City Attorney's Office, focusing on constitutional law and related issues, and her focus shifted. Williams also held a law clerk internship with Judge Allen Oleisky, 4th Judicial District.
After graduation, Williams was hired as a law clerk for the 5th Judicial District of Minnesota. As a clerk, Williams was responsible for conducting legal research, writing and drafting of orders and memoranda, findings of fact and conclusions of law.
"I realized then that the criminal cases were the ones I liked working on the most," says Williams. "I couldn't understand why every attorney wasn't leaping to practice criminal law. That's when I decided that I wanted to specialize in criminal defense and appeals."
Williams launched a private solo practice in 1993 in Minneapolis. Four years later, she won an important Minnesota Supreme Court victory on behalf of professional boxer Jack Basting. Basting had been convicted of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon after punching his ex-wife's boyfriend. The trial court had concluded that because Basting was a boxer his fist was a dangerous weapon. Williams challenged the conviction and won. In State of Minnesota v. Basting , the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Basting's experience as a boxer, in and of itself, did not render his fist a dangerous weapon.
Although she had an established practice in Minnesota, Williams longed to return to Peoria. "I have very strong family ties to the area, and I always wanted to move back," she explains.
In 2004, Williams relocated her practice in Peoria, while still maintaining her Minnesota law license since 1991. She became licensed in Illinois in 2005. She continues to represent clients in criminal trials and criminal appeals. "I love practicing criminal defense, and really enjoy making a difference for my clients. I strive to treat each client as if he or she is my only client. I believe each client can sense it," Williams says.
Attorney Maureen Williams serves on the board of Prairie State Legal Services and is also a member of the Peoria County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association. In July 2009, she was nominated for the McAndrews Pro Bono Award for her work in securing in Peoria the opportunity for indigent expungement petitioners to request a waiver of court filing fees.
- Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota,
Honors: American Jurisprudence Award Spring 1990
- Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska,
Major: Accounting (CPA Designation in 1988)
- Representative Cases:
- Minnesota v. Basting, Minnesota S. Ct. (C5-96-493 1997)
- Minnesota v. Bragg, Minnesota S. Ct. (C1-97-2039 1998)
- Illinois v. Pamela Slater, Illinois S. Ct. (886 NE 2d. 986 2008)
- Professional Associations and Memberships:
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Prairie State Legal Services Board, 2008 - Present
- Board Member
- Appellate Lawyers Association, 2005 - Present
- Peoria County Bar Association, 2004 - Present
- Peoria Area Women attorneys (PAWA), 2010 - Present
- Past Employment Positions:
- State of Minnesota 5th Judicial District, Law Clerk, 1992 - 1993
- Minneapolis City Attorneys Office, Law Clerk, 1990 - 1991
- Arthur Anderson, St. Paul, Minnesota, Staff, 1988 - 1990
- Woodward & Co., Kansas City, Missouri, Staff Accountant, 1986 - 1988
- Ginoli & Co., Peoria, Illinois, Staff Accountant, 1985 - 1986
- Pro Bono Activities:
- Prairie State Legal Services Volunteer, 2005 - Present
- OSF Hospital Volunteer, 2007 - Present