Jessie Rossman, HLS J.D. ’07, is a staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. After graduating, she worked as a law clerk to Judge Raymond C. Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Prior to her current position, she worked as a legal fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council and as a staff attorney at the ACLU of Michigan.
Since she began working at the ACLU of Massachusetts in June of 2013, Jessie has briefed Commonwealth v. Augustine, a case that successfully challenged the Commonwealth’s claim that citizens have no constitutional protected rights in cell site location. She has also presented oral argument in Commonwealth v. Forlizze, a case challenging the government’s failure to seek judicial approval before collecting an attorney’s bank records. In Michigan, she briefed and argued Gaspar v. Dicks, defeating a motion for summary judgment on a free speech retaliation claim in federal district court and successfully settled a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in Prater v. Detroit Police Department, resulting in a new policy to ensure that pregnant officers are protected against discrimination on the job.
In a recent State House News article Jessie is quoted saying: “[Massachusetts] is actually the only state that incarcerates people who are suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, who haven’t been convicted of a crime. And imprisoning people because they have a disease is wrong, and it’s also unconstitutional.” In June, 2014, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Prisoners’ Legal Services, the Center for Public Representation, and WilmerHale filed a federal class action suit challenging the practice.
Her passion for public interest work started at Harvard Law School. “Through the clinical program, I figured out what public interest meant,” she said. As a law student, Jessie participated in the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic, working at Greater Boston Legal Services and completed a winter term independent clinical at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
“I would encourage students to take different clinics and explore how legal theory translates into practice. I would also encourage them to take chances and try out what clinics they like and figure out the environment that works best for them,” said Jessie.