|Education||Marquette Law School, J.D. 2003; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, M.S. 2003, B.S. 2001; Milwaukee Area Technical College, A.A.S. 1999|
|Occupation||Attorney and Human Rights Philanthropist|
|Organization||Motley Legal Services, Motley Consulting International, and Motley Cares Foundation|
Kimberley Chongyon Motley is an American International Attorney of African American and Korean descent. She is mother of three, and former Mrs. Wisconsin-America 2004, who is known for being the first foreign attorney to litigate in Afghanistan since 2008. She is licensed and has permission to practice in Afghanistan, Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court, Dubai International Financial Courts, and the International Criminal Courts. She is considered one of the most effective defense attorneys operating in Afghanistan.
In the male-dominated Afghan court and prison system, wrote Tom Freston in Vanity Fair, Motley "must appear to be someone from outer space. She acknowledges this but declares that she gets respect… She has proven to be a very effective and tenacious fighter." Motley has been described as possessing "a rare kind of grit—the kind necessary to hang a shingle in Kabul, represent the under-represented, weather a kaleidoscope of threats, and win the respect of the Afghan legal establishment (and of tribal leaders)."
Tom Rosenstock, an attorney who has worked in Kabul since 2008, told The Daily Beast in 2010 that Motley may be doing more "to promote rule of law than large ambitious programs which never get to where the rubber meets the road." A Western diplomat in Afghanistan called Motley "the kind of person who makes you change [your] opinion about lawyers."
In 2014, Motley was named by Richard Branson as one of the most inspirational people and described her as "an inspiring litigator with a powerful message: "The laws are ours – no matter your ethnicity, nationality, gender, race – they belong to us."
Motley's father is African-American and her mother is from rural North Korea. Her parents met when her father was in the military. Motley was raised in a "hard" neighborhood in Milwaukee. Her parents were "very nurturing, but outside the home, my environment was hard, harsh, even though we were very close as a family. There was a lot of crime, a lot of poverty, a lot of distrust of each other. A lot of people where I grew up felt invisible to the world. I have two brothers and a sister, and I can think of no other family, for instance, who lived in a two-parent household." She began working at a very early age. Every summer during her early childhood, Motley and her siblings were taken to a farm where they had to "plant turnips and pick green beans and strawberries" which would be frozen for the family to eat during the winter. Motley and her brother also had a newspaper route. In addition, she worked at an ice cream shop at age 13, and "at a juvenile-detention center, grocery stores, youth centers."
She was interested in law from an early age. Although her parents ordinarily would not let her watch television, she had a teacher who told the class to watch Law & Order. "I loved it so much that for three years, I kept telling my parents, my teacher needs me to watch Law & Order." At one point, her father was injured in a car accident and was laid off as a result. "He wanted disability and had to spend years and go through so many lawyers to end up being not successful," she recalled. This spurred her interest in the law, as did the spectacle of "so many people in my neighborhood go[ing] in and out of jail." She has said that in fact "I wanted to be a doctor and a DJ. But law picked me."
Motley received an Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.S.) degree from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1997. She received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 2000, and in 2003 received an M.A. from the same institution. In the same year, she earned a J.D. from Marquette University Law School.
In 2008, after working as a public defender in Milwaukee for five years, Motley went to Afghanistan as part of a nine-month legal education program run by the U.S. State Department to train Afghan lawyers. She had never traveled outside the U.S. before. "In that nine months," she later recalled in a 2014 TED talk, "I went around the country and I talked to hundreds of people that were locked up, and I talked to many businesses that were also operating in Afghanistan. And within these conversations, I started hearing the connections between the businesses and the people, and how laws that were meant to protect them were being underused, while gross and illegal punitive measures were overused. And so this put me on a quest for justness, and what justness means to me is using laws for their intended purpose, which is to protect. The role of laws is to protect. So as a result, I decided to open up a private practice, and I became the first foreigner to litigate in Afghan courts."
At first she represented Westerners and other non-Afghans stranded in Afghan prisons. "What I found," she later recalled, "is that most did not have proper legal representation. If they were English-speaking, they had no idea what was going on in court. I felt and still feel a great responsibility for them as a person and as a lawyer."
Motley's first defendant was "an African woman convicted of drug trafficking. She was a drug mule sent to Afghanistan by a European pimp....She had been in prison for two years with her then-3-year-old daughter. She was convicted of 14 years in prison, so her child would have grown up in jail. She had gone through almost all of her legal options. I felt very helpless, and I do believe her case helped define and shape who I am. She was not afforded her due process under Afghan law. She and her child were tucked away in an Afghan prison, forgotten." Eventually Motley was able to secure a presidential decree ordering the woman's release.
Since 2009, Motley has been the CEO of Motley Consulting International, of which she is a Founding Partner. Since the same year she has also been CEO of Motley Legal Services, which provides legal representation in the U.S. and Afghanistan. She spends approximately six months in a fortified house in Kabul, where she provides representation for criminal and human-rights cases in the nation. She is preoccupied with the task of growing the capacity of rule of law internationally. She is registered as an attorney with the American, French, U.A.E., Australian, Spanish, Dutch, British, Italian, Norwegian, German, and Canadian Embassies in Afghanistan, and is thus routinely contacted by expatriates who are facing legal troubles with Afghan authorities.
"Motley works for the release of foreigners languishing in Afghan jails," reported The Daily Beast in 2010, "and often her work starts after the verdict—as in the case of an Australian on death row, convicted of murdering an Afghan colleague; a South African sentenced to fifteen years in prison on drug charges, and a Brit convicted of fraud." For example, "she negotiated the release of Bill Shaw, a former British military officer, who had been held in the notorious Pul-e-charki prison for five months."
She "has developed her own approach to operating in the Afghan courts," reported The Daily Beast. For example, "she never wears a veil or a dress" during a trial. She explained, "I need to look like a man as much as possible...I find that men hear me more when I don’t wear a headscarf. I wore it at first, and when I took it off, I found men were more respectful."
As of 2010, Motley was under a threat from the Afghan District Attorney's office to arrest her next time she set foot in Kabul, as retribution for her harsh criticism of Afghanistan's corrupt judicial system. She had no hesitation about returning. "I have clients back there," she said. "They need my help." She also noted that she received rape threats. "If I was a man, I’d get more death threats, I suppose. But I get those as well." She has also "been temporarily detained" and "accused of running a brothel" and of espionage. A grenade was thrown at her office. But she has said that the rewards of her job "far outweigh the risks, and as many risks as I take, my clients take far greater risks, because they have a lot more to lose if their cases go unheard, or worse, if they're penalized for having me as their lawyer. With every case that I take, I realize that as much as I'm standing behind my clients, that they're also standing behind me, and that's what keeps me going."
On June 21, 2014, Motley's husband, Claudiare Motley, was shot in Milwaukee after attending a high school reunion due to an attempted carjacking committed by Nathan King a sixteen year old. Eventually King was shot while attempting another robbery and became paralyzed as a result. Motley represented Claudiare and Victoria Davison, the woman who shot King, in Court. On July 16, 2015, King was found guilty of the two counts of Attempted Armed Robbery against Motley and Davison and ultimately received twelve years in prison and eight years extended supervision prison sentence.
On December 16, 2016, Motley went to Havana, Cuba to represent Danilo Machado. While in Havana Motley was arrested without charge and subsequently deported from Cuba. Motley was instrumental to the release of Machado on January 21, 2017, who was released from El Combinado del Este prison without charge.
Motley has successfully handled a number of high-profile cases around the world including but not limited to.
- Danilo Maldonado Machado a.k.a. El Sexto - Human Rights Attorney Representing El Sexto Arrested in Havana
- Niloofar Rhamani - Meet Afghanistan's First Female Fixed Wing Pilot
- Anwar Ibrahim - U.S. Lawyer takes on Anwar Ibrahim's Sodomy II Case 
- Australian Child Abduction - Children Abducted to Afghanistan Returned to their Mother
- British Child Abduction - Snatched Boys Found in Afghanistan Reunited with Mother
- Bevan Campbell - Former Beauty Queen on Lawyering in Afghanistan (Bevan Campbell Freed)
- Victoria Davidson - Two Crime Victims One a CCW Holder who Shot Boy in Court for Sixteen Year Old's Sentencing
- Farkhunda - (Motley Represented Farkhunda's family only in First Court in which there were 23 convictions) Hardly Justice for Farkhunda
- David Gordon - U.S. Contractor Illegally Detained in Afghanistan
- Sahar Gul - Afghanistan's Hunted Women Update
- Gulnaz - Afghan Rape Victim Freed From Jail
- Michael Hearn - British Private Security Company Employee Jailed by Afghans Amid Crackdown (freed from jail)
- Khatera - Afghan Sues Police Over Daughter's Murder
- Robert Langdon - Freed Aussie's Debt to U.S. Lawyer 
- Anthony Malone - Ex-para Anthony Malone Freed from Afghan Jail
- Naghma (Child Bride) - Brokering A Deal to Save a Child Bride
- Mariam Rocabado - A World Class Lawyer Deals with a Case of Rape in Bolivia
- Matthew Rosenberg / New York Times - New President Welcomes Back Times Reporter
- William Shaw - Former British Army Officer Acquitted of Bribery Charge
- Baljit Singh - Afghan Man, Detained for Being Sikh is Released from Prison
- Charlie Tate - Two Men Sentenced in Unrelated Deaths
- Philip Young - Philip Young to be Released
- British Contractors - Britons Freed in Afghanistan After Weapons Arrest
- Eight Year Old Boy Must Stay in Supervised Care
Motley's Law (Documentary Film)
A documentary Film entitled Motley's Law about Motley made by the Danish Film Production Company Made in Copenhagen and directed by Nicole Nielsen Horanyi and produced by Helle Faber was released in October 2015. It won the Grand Jury Prize Award at NYC DOC 2015.
It was also won the AWFJ - Alliance of Women Film Journalists' EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary at IDFA 2015. Motley's Law was also nominated for the FACT Award at CPH-DOX.
The film has been described as being "Fascinating." Motley has been described as "fearless, but she's also endearing; she's not an abrasive personality or a crusading egocentric as one might expect from a person who puts herself in harm's way in a land to which she has no personal attachment." A "Bad Ass Lawyer Fighting for Justice in Afghanistan."
Failing Farkhunda Means Failing Afghan Women
The Mob Killing of Farkhunda was a Defining Moment for Women's Rights in Afghanistan
A Defining Moment
Our Complacency with War Torn Violence
The Immorality of Afghanistan's Moral Crimes
Motley wrote "Article 26: The implications for Afghanistani women and children," published by Chambers and Partners, Chambers Women & Diversity in February 2014.
Making Good on the 911 Legacy for Afghan Women
Juvenile Injustice in Afghanistan
Assessment of Juvenile Justice in Afghanistan
In addition to practicing law, Motley teaches spinning classes at the U.S. military base while in Kabul. "I respect the military," she has said.
In December 2014, she gave a TED talk entitled "How can we all find ways to be courageous?" She described cases she has handled which illustrate "how a country's own laws can bring both justice and 'justness.'" She also gave a talk at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2015.
Comments by Motley
In her TED talk, Motley is noted as saying that "the reason for my success is very simple: I work the system from the inside out and use the laws in the ways that they're intended to be used." Motley also popularized the term "Justness" which she defines as using the laws for their intended purpose which is to protect. She just recently is working on the Justness Project which is a global campaign to "put laws back in the hands of the people."
She also stated that there are three reasons why "achieving justness in places like Afghanistan is difficult." First, "people are very uneducated as to what their legal rights [are], and I find that this is a global problem. The second issue is that even with laws on the books, it's often superseded or ignored by tribal customs...And the third problem with achieving justness is that even with good, existing laws on the books, there aren't people or lawyers that are willing to fight for those laws. And that's what I do: I use existing laws, often unused laws, and I work those to the benefits of my clients. We all need to create a global culture of human rights and be investors in a global human rights economy, and by working in this mindset, we can significantly improve justice globally."
Motley also has talked about Building A Global Human Rights Economy.
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