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Press Release

Readout of Director Rachel Rossi’s Trip to Connecticut

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Director Rachel Rossi of the Justice Department’s Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) traveled to Connecticut this week as part of the office’s mission to ensure access to justice across the civil justice system, to expand access to counsel and to support innovative efforts to improve the judiciary and court administration. As part of the visit, Director Rossi met with U.S. Attorney Vanessa Avery for the District of Connecticut to applaud her leadership on access to justice issues in the state and to discuss future collaboration.

Director Rossi and ATJ staff also convened members of the Connecticut Bar Foundation (CBF), Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Access to Justice Commission and Connecticut Judiciary. During the meeting, Director Rossi highlighted recent initiatives, including quarterly convenings of the over 40 access to justice commissions across the country; the Federal Pro Bono Program; updates on the work of the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable; and recent efforts to support the reduced reliance on fines and fees. Attendees discussed civil justice barriers, resource needs and innovative access to justice projects.

In the afternoon, Director Rossi participated in a site visit to the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center (CVLC), where she toured the Newington Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center and observed the CVLC’s medical-legal partnership model. She also met with CVLC leadership and medical and legal staff, to learn about the legal services program and implementation of the model in other VA Medical Centers across the country. Director Rossi reiterated ATJ’s commitment and highlighted efforts to expand Access to Justice for Veterans, service members and their families and ATJ’s recent launch of the first-ever medical-legal partnership within a federal prison, in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Director Rossi also met with Reginald Dwayne Betts, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Freedom Reads, a non-profit organization that uses literature, design and architecture to create transformative experiences for incarcerated individuals and to address reentry and rehabilitative needs. Director Rossi discussed various ATJ initiatives aimed at addressing barriers to reentry faced by formerly incarcerated individuals and efforts to improve access to counsel for those in custody.

At the conclusion of the trip, Director Rossi delivered keynote remarks for CBF’s Annual Reception, which annually celebrates CBF’s work to fund and support programs that provide legal services for Connecticut residents who cannot afford an attorney. The reception honors CBF’s James W. Cooper Fellows and the innovative projects that forward the mission of advancing civil justice for all regardless of power or resources. In her remarks, Director Rossi emphasized the office’s mission of “engaging in the bold, transformative and systemic work necessary to ensure that all communities have access to the promises and protections of our criminal and civil legal systems.” She encouraged the fellows’ work of driving policy change and expanding program efforts for pro bono support as well as legal services. The CBF is a non-profit organization with a mission to facilitate systemic change that advances civil justice for all, regardless of power or resources, to achieve a more just and equitable society. 

Director Rossi and members from Connecticut Bar Foundation, Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Access to Justice Commission and Connecticut Judiciary.
Director Rossi and members from Connecticut Bar Foundation, Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Access to Justice Commission and Connecticut Judiciary.
Director Rossi and members from Connecticut Bar Foundation, Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Access to Justice Commission and Connecticut Judiciary.
Director Rossi and members from Connecticut Bar Foundation, Connecticut Bar Association, Connecticut Access to Justice Commission and Connecticut Judiciary.
Director Rossi and staff from the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.
Director Rossi and staff from the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.
Director Rossi speaking at the Connecticut Bar Foundation's Annual Reception.
Director Rossi speaking at the Connecticut Bar Foundation's Annual Reception.
Updated May 31, 2024

Topic
Access to Justice
Press Release Number: 24-691