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American attorney Kimberley Motley has earned the reputation of one of the world’s most respected and successful lawyers. Armed with an unwavering determination and a passion for justice, Motley currently spends most of her time navigating Afghanistan’s punitive and capricious legal system with unprecedented success.
After a 40-year-old man raped his 15-year-old female cousin, according to Afghan customs, the young victim was jailed for 10 years for having sex out of wedlock, during which she was impregnated.
Nearly two years after the girl was imprisoned, Motley learned of the case and signed on to defend the young victim. Motley argued the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Afghanistan and was able to get the court to agree to reduce the girl’s sentence significantly--to three years and to stop the impending forced marriage. But Motley wanted an even better result for the girl. She appealed to Afghan President Hamid Karzai with a presidential pardon request. Fighting the case all the way to the Presidential Palace, Motley emerged victorious. The pardon was surprisingly granted, it was the first and only presidential pardon given to a female for a moral crime in Afghanistan’s history. The young victim was exonerated of her charges and granted freedom. This case is just one example of the extraordinary effects Motley’s fearless efforts have on her clients specifically and on the legal system as a whole.
This pioneering international litigator is the daughter of a North Korean refugee mother and an ex-military African American father initially served as an attorney with the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office, where she litigated hundreds of criminal, civil and juvenile cases ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.
Motley then applied to travel to Afghanistan as part of a State Department-funded legal-education program that took her to some of Afghanistan’s notoriously rough, male prisons, women’s prisons, and juvenile detention centers. She quickly discovered that there was a dire need for good lawyers to represent foreigners in trouble with the local, corrupt judicial system. As a result she opened a private practice and became the first and still only Westerner to practice law in Afghanistan’s courts.
Affectionately nicknamed “911,” Motley spends nine months of the year living in Afghanistan, defending foreigners to the country, Fortune 500 companies, embassies and ambassadors, and women and children in human rights cases, which have involved everything from accusations of drug trafficking, battery, murder. Bringing her vast knowledge, experience, success record and steadfast ethical standards to each case, Motley challenges outdated cultural norms and focuses on human rights. This former beauty queen, crowned Mrs. Wisconsin in 2004, has independently won freedom for countless victims, such as a seven-year-old child bride, a 15-year-old girl raped and imprisoned, and a British ex-soldier accused of bribery. Motley is a registered attorney for more than 20 embassies, including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany, as well as an attorney for the French, Italian, U.A.E., and U.K. embassies and ambassadors.
Her expert legal work and legal research and precedent has earned international attention with segments on CNN, the BBC, NBC, Dan Rather Reports, as well as articles in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post, among many others. Motley has also published several articles on juvenile justice and contemporary legal issues in Afghanistan. She is currently penning a book chronicling her experiences as a Western attorney in the Middle East. In her lectures around the world, Motley shares her breadth of international law and her prowess handling criminal, commercial, civil, and human rights issues. Motley is currently licensed to practice law in Afghanistan, the International Criminal Courts, Dubai DIFC., the U.S. Supreme Court, Wisconsin, and is working on other jurisdictions. As a tenious attorney and former Mrs. Wisconsin, Motley plans to continue to represent persons in various courts internationally with the hopes of raising the standards of rule of law.
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