Christine Williams, a Yurok Tribal member, was appointed by the Tribal Council as the Chief Judge of the Wilton Tribal Court in March of 2020. As Chief Judge, she is charged with developing and implementing the Wilton Judicial Branch according to the framework provided in the Wilton Rancheria Constitution and laws. Judge Williams brings to the Wilton Rancheria Courts twenty years’ experience in the field of Indian law and ten years’ experience serving as a judge for Tribes throughout California. She has spent her legal career focused on representing Tribes in a broad spectrum of legal matters—primarily tribal court development, Indian child welfare and cultural resource protection.
Judge Williams currently serves as the inaugural Chairperson for the California Tribal Court Judges Association formed in 2016. She is also an appointee to the California Tribal Court State Court Forum. Judge Williams has been a member of the California Indian Law Association since 2000 and served on the board for many years in the past. Judge Williams was admitted to practice law in the State of California in 2000.
Judge Williams earned a Juris Doctor degree and Federal Indian Law Certificate from Arizona State University College of Law in 2000. She graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a double major in Sociology and Women’s Studies in 1996.
As the Chief Judge for the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians located within El Dorado County, she worked with Tribal Officials and El Dorado County officials to establish the Family Wellness Court with the El Dorado County Superior Court. The Family Wellness Court is a joint-jurisdiction court which enables judges from both jurisdictions to work in concert to hear cases in one courtroom. This model is the second tribal court/state court joint-jurisdictional court in the nation, the first in California. By partnering under the shared jurisdiction, both courts have improved outcomes for tribal families and children by keeping children in school, reunifying parents and children, and promoting children to graduate from high school and not into the adult criminal system.
In 2005 Judge Williams helped launch the Indian Child Welfare Act Initiative at the Judicial Council of California as the first lead attorney for the Initiative.
She is the outgoing director of the UC Davis School of Law Tribal Justice Project, which she and her team developed to provide training to tribal court judges and court personnel in California.