The Justice Department on May 19 announced the appointment of Deputy Associate Attorney General Rachel Rossi as director of the Office for Access to Justice. In the new role, Rossi will lead the office’s efforts to improve the federal government’s understanding of and capacity to address the most urgent legal needs of communities across America.
In October 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the restoration of a standalone Office for Access to Justice. The department announced on May 19 that over the past six months, the office has led the department’s efforts to address the housing and eviction crisis, ensured equal access to justice for veterans and service members and removed barriers to successful reentry for previously incarcerated individuals.
“There can be no equal justice without equal access to justice,” said Garland. “For the past six months, our newly restored Office for Access to Justice has worked to fulfill that mission. Rachel Rossi’s leadership of that Office will further advance these efforts.”
“Disrupting the devastating connections between race, poverty and injustice is hard work that requires exactly the kind of dedication and vision we’ve seen in Ms. Rossi’s work at the department,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Ms. Rossi’s leadership will help us build on the department’s work to make justice more accessible to all.”
“I am humbled by this opportunity and ready to get to work building on the foundation of my predecessors and the great progress that’s been made under Attorney General Garland’s leadership,” said Rossi. “I have seen firsthand how access to justice can make the difference in keeping families together, people in their homes and victims safe from violence. I look forward to working closely alongside dedicated public servants across the department as we examine and reimagine the tools and systems, we rely on to make justice more accessible for all.”
The Office for Access to Justice was initially launched in 2010 and was a standalone component through the end of 2017.
One year ago, Garland launched a strategic review process led by the Justice Department’s three leadership offices. The goal of the review was to examine barriers and disparities in our criminal and civil justice systems and identify ways the department can improve the federal government’s understanding of and capacity to address the most urgent legal needs of communities across America, according to the May 19 press release.
The review, which engaged a wide range of stakeholders across all levels of government, revealed that longstanding justice gaps have been exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and identified a clear and immediate need for the restoration of a standalone Office for Access to Justice within the Justice Department.