You could describe the Honorable Erica Lee Williams as tiny but mighty. This District Court judge is no-nonsense and decisive, hearing up to 200 cases a day in court. Off the bench, this dynamo loves the simplicity of spending time with her family and swinging on her porch swing.FACES of Louisville Erica Williams

What do you do for a living?

I am a District Court judge.

How long have you been a judge?

I have been a judge since July 2009.

What’s the biggest difference in being a judge and being an attorney?

As an attorney you are an advocate for your client, for their position — you have a “side.” As a judge, you are the decider of fact. You must remain neutral and process the information and evidence presented to you. You are no longer an advocate; you are the judge.Judge Erica Lee Williams FACES of Louisville

Would you go back to being an attorney? If so, what would you do differently?

I never say never. However, I do love serving the community as a judge. I believe it is where I am supposed to be. Having said that, if I were to go back to practicing law, I would make my written legal arguments more succinct.

You are the only African American female judge in District Court. What are your thoughts on that?

While it is an honor to serve on the bench, it is disheartening to be the only “anything” in 2014. Our bench should be reflective of our society and citizens. In its current state, it is not. My hope is that the bench soon becomes a better reflection of those we serve.

You have quite a collection of judicial robes. Tell me a little bit about them.

It is true I have a small collection of robes. Since we have night courts downtown and in Okolona and Middletown, I have a few robes so that I can always be sure that I am not without one during a night court or Teen Court. I also have my favorite robe, that is the one I wear on the bench each day.Judge Erica Lee Williams FACES of Louisville

You are up for re-election in November. What would you like to tell the voting public?

First and foremost, I absolutely love my job. It is an honor to serve our citizens each day. I am dedicated and invested in what I do for a living. I am well aware that my decisions have an impact on lives and our community. I have served this community as a judge for five years, and I look forward to serving for many, many more years to come. I humbly ask for your support in November.

How do you balance your job and your personal life?

Like most mothers who work outside the home, I am not sure if I am, indeed, balanced. It is certainly my goal to balance the two, but there is a give and take. Each and every day I carve out time for my family. My daughter, Jacqueline, and I have an amazing bond. I make sure that I nurture that daily. I am fortunate enough to be married to my best friend. My husband, Jason, is extremely supportive and helps me stay (or at least strive to be) “balanced.”

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

To never, ever give up. I have faced challenges throughout my life, like we all do, and I remain amazed and humbled by many of the outcomes. I have learned that if you put your mind to it and truly work at attaining your goal, that you can achieve it. It may not happen when you would like it to, but if you remain focused, diligent and consistent you can accomplish almost anything.Judge Erica Lee Williams FACES of Louisville

Who is your mentor?

I seek mentors for each facet of my life. I have professional mentors, both judicial and otherwise. I have mentors I seek out for parenting advice. All of my mentors are positive, present and passionate.

What is best advice you have received in business?

Do not be afraid to say “I don’t know.”

Judge Erica Lee Williams FACES of Louisville
A rare picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visiting Frankfort, KY, hangs in her office.

If you were not in your current job, what would you love to do?

My dream job would be to be a news anchor on Good Morning America.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I can eat an entire large pepperoni pizza in one sitting.Judge Erica Lee Williams FACES of Louisville

What is your favorite place to eat?

Jack Fry’s

Where do you like to shop?

White House Black Market

What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?

We take a vacation every year somewhere warm and tropical.Judge Erica Lee Williams FACES of Louisville

What is your weakness?


What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?

Supporting independent and locally owned shops and restaurants. We have some true gems in town!

What are three things you cannot live without, besides faith, family and friends?

Comfortable pajamas, music, my daughter’s kisses

What are you reading?

Business First, every week.

What are three of your favorite things?

  • Written thank-you notes
  • Lazy Sunday afternoons with my husband and daughter
  • Warm summer evenings on my deck swing


We so enjoyed getting a window into Judge Williams’ courtroom and seeing how she works. She commands the room and demands the utmost respect.  To learn more about her or to support her campaign, click here:

As always, much gratitude to my FACES photographer Adele Reding for her fantastic work. See her profile here:

adele reding FACES banner 2014

About the Author
Heidi Potter