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Press Release

Readout of Director Rachel Rossi’s Trip to Los Angeles

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Director Rachel Rossi of the Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) traveled to Los Angeles last week to engage access to justice stakeholders and deliver the commencement address at Le Lycée Franҫais de Los Angeles.

To further inform the office’s broad-ranging efforts to support reentry and reduce recidivism, Director Rossi and ATJ staff conducted visits with leading criminal justice reentry organizations. Director Rossi first met with Executive Director Sam Lewis of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and Deputy Director Dana Jackson, where they discussed strategies to eliminate barriers faced by formerly incarcerated people when reentering society, and how these efforts must begin during incarceration. She then visited Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the world. At Homeboy Industries, she toured the main facility and met with staff and the founder, Father Gregory Boyle, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in May.

Next, Director Rossi and ATJ staff met with representatives of the Inter-Agency Los Angeles Federal Pro Bono Committee. Agencies represented included leadership from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and officials from the Department of Labor, Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review. The meeting highlighted the importance of regional pro bono committees to encourage and promote federal employee engagement in pro bono opportunities, as one strategy the office deploys through the Federal Government Pro Bono Program. She then met with Black faith leaders representing various churches from across Los Angeles County, convened by Elder Joe Paul at the Peoples’ Independent Church of Christ. The meeting focused on the front-line justice needs impacting local communities, including housing, access to public benefits, safety, civil rights, public school collaboration to address the barriers faced by children in underserved communities and the urgent need to address issues within the child welfare system for Black families.

The next day, Director Rossi and ATJ staff convened local stakeholders to discuss the significant challenges they face in providing for basic legal aid and language access needs in Los Angeles. They met with stakeholders from 23 legal services and community-based language justice organizations, as well as representatives from the City and County of Los Angeles. Director Rossi discussed ATJ initiatives to expand support for legal services providers and language access. She heard from stakeholders on a wide range of topics including, eviction, homelessness, federal funding for legal aid, translation and interpretation resource needs and advocacy surrounding language justice policies. The convening included leaders and staff from the Los Angeles Civil Rights Department, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Office of Immigration Inclusion and Language Access in the City of LA, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Public Counsel, Asian-Americans Advancing Justice, Inner City Law Center, Mental Health Advocacy Services and Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, among others.

Following the convening, Director Rossi met the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California, Cuauhtemoc Ortega, to discuss support for access to counsel, public defense and access to justice. She also met with Ricardo Garcia, Los Angeles County Public Defender, who oversees the nation’s first and largest public defender office. In this meeting they discussed public defense workload standards, federal resources like ATJ’s Public Defense Resource Hub for state and local public defenders and recruitment and retention trends in public defense that are impacting access to justice for vulnerable, marginalized and underserved communities. 

Director Rossi and ATJ staff then met with the Presiding Judge Samantha Jessner of the Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) and the Executive Officer and Clerk of Court for LASC, David Slayton. Director Rossi discussed the launch of Access DOJ, the first localized human-centered design hub at the Justice Department, led by ATJ, working to make Justice Department programs and services more accessible, effective and efficient. The meeting focused on shared experiences, given a new human-centered design partnership between LASC, the largest trial court in the nation, and the Deborah L. Rhode Center for the Legal Profession at Stanford Law School. That effort will research, design and implement innovative, evidence-based approaches to reduce barriers to participation in the judicial process and to improve access to justice for all court users in Los Angeles.

To conclude the trip, Director Rossi gave the commencement address at Le Lycée Franҫais de Los Angeles, an international school with students representing over 62 nationalities, and specializing in bilingual French/American education. In her remarks, Director Rossi described ATJ’s mission, highlighted several ATJ initiatives, including language access, related experiences from her legal career and encouraged the students to pursue justice in through all career paths.

Director Rossi met with representatives and toured the headquarters of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.
Director Rossi met with representatives and toured the headquarters of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition.
Director Rossi met with Father Greg Boyle, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, and toured the campus.
Director Rossi met with Father Greg Boyle, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, and toured the campus.

 

Director Rossi and representatives from the Inter-Agency LA Federal Government Pro Bono Committee.
Director Rossi and representatives from the Inter-Agency LA Federal Government Pro Bono Committee.
Director Rossi met with Black faith leaders representing various churches from across Los Angeles County.
Director Rossi met with Black faith leaders representing various churches from across Los Angeles County.

 

Director Rossi met with stakeholders from legal services and community-based language justice organizations, as well as representatives from the City and County of Los Angeles.
Director Rossi met with stakeholders from legal services and community-based language justice organizations, as well as representatives from the City and County of Los Angeles.
Director Rossi and ATJ staff with the Presiding Judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Executive Officer.
Director Rossi and ATJ staff with the Presiding Judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court and the Executive Officer.

 

Updated June 17, 2024

Topic
Access to Justice
Press Release Number: 24-770