Rachel Rossi is the first former public defender to run for Los Angeles County District Attorney. She has spent her career fighting for marginalized communities as a public defender in L.A.’s state and federal courts, and through criminal justice reform as criminal justice policy expert. Her combined litigation and policy experience uniquely position Rachel to bring true change to LA’s broken criminal justice system.
As a public defender, Rachel defended Angelenos in the trenches in the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles, both with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office and the Alternate Public Defender’s Office. She then defended the people of Los Angeles as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Rachel conducted vigorous litigation in these roles, including drafting and arguing motions and conducting numerous jury trials. As a public defender, Rachel defended clients who — all to often — suffered from mental illness, substance use disorders and poverty, and daily witnessed the stark racial disparities of the system. She handled a wide range of cases, from charges of sleeping on the sidewalk against our houseless neighbors, to immigration related offenses, insider trading, fraud, narcotics and gun trafficking, and complex litigation including RICO conspiracy charges. Working in both state and Federal courts, Rachel gained comprehensive expertise on L.A.’s layers of criminal justice systems, including the many local and federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutorial agencies that intersect in our County.
Rachel then worked on criminal justice policy in Washington, D.C. on the House and Senate sides, to reform criminal justice systems nationally and in California. As Counsel to Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Democratic Whip, on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Rachel worked on multiple nomination hearings, including those for Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and was a lead staffer on the largest major federal criminal justice reform bill signed into law, which enacted comprehensive sentencing and prison reforms and has resulted in thousands of people being released from federal prison to date.
As Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee, Rachel worked with the Democratic Majority on efforts to develop the next steps in criminal justice reform nationally. She worked with Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler and Judiciary Crime Sub-Committee Chair Rep. Karen Bass on drafting legislation and holding Congressional hearings on criminal justice issues, including on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the need for criminal justice reform, issues faced by women in the criminal justice system, reducing firearm violence, combatting hate crimes, and a Los Angeles field hearing on California’s criminal justice reforms.