Rachel Rossi is a seasoned criminal defense attorney and criminal justice policy expert. Ms. Rossi has a decade of experience as a public defender in both federal and state criminal courts in Los Angeles, and in the drafting of criminal justice policy and legislation in Washington, D.C.
Rachel was recently named to a national taskforce uniting law enforcement and first responders in an effort to save lives in our nation's criminal justice system amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Bar Association has recognized Rachel as one of the nation's Top 40 under 40 Lawyers, and Lawyers of Color honored her as an influential Capitol Hill staffer during Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference.
Prior to joining CW, Rachel temporarily worked on criminal justice policy in Washington, D.C. on the House and Senate sides. As Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee, she led the Democratic Majority's efforts to develop the next steps in criminal justice reform nationally. She worked with Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler and Judiciary Crime Subcommittee Chair Karen Bass on drafting criminal justice reform legislation and holding Congressional hearings on the need for criminal justice reform, including a hearing on California's criminal justice reforms, and a hearing on women and girls in the criminal justice system, where Piper Kerman of Orange is the New Black testified. Prior to the House Judiciary Committee, Rachel was Counsel to Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Democratic Whip, on criminal justice. Rachel worked on multiple nomination hearings, including those for Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and was the lead staffer on the First Step Act, the major federal criminal justice reform bill signed into law in December 2018. The First Step Act enacted comprehensive sentencing and prison reforms and has resulted in thousands of people being released from federal prison to date.
Prior to her time in D.C., Rachel was an attorney with the Federal Public Defender's office in Los Angeles, where she defended clients in the Central District of California and the Ninth Circuit. Rachel conducted numerous multi-day trials and evidentiary hearings, and drafted and argued complex motions on a wide range of cases including financial fraud, narcotics offenses, immigration offenses, and insider trading. Prior to her time as a Federal Public Defender, Rachel represented thousands of clients as an attorney with the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office and Alternate Public Defender's Office. In those roles, Rachel represented a wide range of clients, including persons experiencing homelessness, mental distress or illness, and substance use disorders in Los Angeles County. As a public defender, Rachel was known for her tough and vigorous defense of all clients through trial and litigation.
Rachel is also a frequent presenter on criminal justice reform, including at the Justice Roundtable's Quarterly Assembly, Yale Law School, the International Community Corrections Association's Public Policy Forum, and the Northern District of California District Conference. She has been a member and board member of the John M. Langston Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, the Latina Lawyer's Bar Association of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association Criminal Justice Committee. Rachel graduated from Pepperdine Law School, where she was the Champion of the Los Angeles Region for the ABA Labor & Employment Law Trial Competition, Champion at the International Moot Court Competition in London, and an Editor for the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal.