Biography of Rachael Melford

Rachael Melford serves as a staff attorney for the Office of Independent Review. She joined the OIR in May of 2022.

As a law student, Rachael interned with the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and the San Francisco based Homeless Advocacy Project.  Rachael began her legal career with the Yuba County Public Defender’s Office, where she served for over four years as a Deputy Public Defender. In that capacity she litigated criminal cases on behalf of indigent defendants at the trial court level. Rachael conducted independent investigations and consulted with both lay and expert witnesses in preparation for trial, conducted evidentiary and preliminary hearings, and negotiated case dispositions with prosecutors. 

During her time as a Deputy Public Defender, Rachael was assigned to several collaborative and restorative justice courts, including the Proposition 36 Court and Drug Courts, where she assisted non-violent drug offenders obtain treatment and supportive services to achieve and maintain sobriety, with the shared goal of reducing recidivism.  In the Conservatorship and Probate Courts, she protected the rights of the gravely disabled suffering from developmental disabilities and mental illness through in person visits to evaluate living conditions, ensuring these individuals were placed in the least restrictive setting.  Rachael also conducted medical treatment assessments to prevent overmedication and reviewed annual accountings to confirm expenditures were necessary and in the best interest of the individual conserved.

After moving back to Southern California, Rachael continued her criminal defense work and transitioned into private practice.  She worked to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants in in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties, and addressed law enforcement misconduct through civil actions filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California Civil Code §52.1.