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T. 562.896.1383

Rachael’s interest in investigations stems from her commitment to truth and justice. She treats each investigation as a problem to be solved.  She uses her interpersonal skills gleaned from her years as a litigator to obtain useful investigatory materials, and her analytical mind to unravel the intricacies of each case she handles.


Rachael’s legal career began at the Yuba County Public Defender’s Office.  She represented indigent criminal defendants in a wide variety of cases and conducted independent investigations, interviewing and consulting both lay and expert witnesses, in preparation for trial. She was also assigned to several collaborative and restorative justice courts.  In the drug courts, she assisted non-violent drug offenders achieve and maintain sobriety, with the shared goal of reducing recidivism. In the conservatorship court she protected the rights of the gravely disabled suffering from developmental disabilities and mental illness by conducting living condition evaluations, medical treatment assessments, and reviewing annual accountings to ensure all expenditures where necessary and in the best interest of the individual conserved.

After moving back home to Southern California, Rachael continued her criminal defense work in the private sector and expanded her practice to address law enforcement misconduct through civil actions filed under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and California Civil Code §52.1.

Seeking a less adversarial role with the potential for a broader impact, Rachael joined the Orange County Office of Independent Review. Here, she provided oversight to several public safety agencies by identifying high risk conduct through impartial investigations and addressing the same by recommending remedial measures rooted in evidence-based best practices.  She conducted independent investigations of citizen and incarcerated person complaints, officer-involved shootings, custodial deaths, compliance with new reproductive and healthcare rights for incarcerated persons, and the use of chemical restraints on detained youth.

Outside of the Office

Rachael enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time at the beach with her kids.

“Whatever you chose to do, leave tracks. That means don’t just do it for yourself. You will want to leave the world a little better for your having lived.” – Ruth Bader Ginsberg

  • OIG Adds Attorney Investigator Rachael Melford
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Archived Publications

“Independent Review of OCSD: Compliance with Rights Afforded to Incarcerated Persons by AB 732,” County of Orange Office of Independent Review, co-author, August 2023.


Golden Gate University, School of Law, J.D., Litigation Certificate with Distinction

University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A. with Honors, Law & Society, Criminal Justice Emphasis

Areas of Expertise



State Bar of California