Haverhill attorney Marsha V. Kazarosian was appointed yesterday as one of nine commissioners who will create mandatory certification process for police officers under the state’s police reform law.
Kazarosian, one of several appointments required of Attorney General Maura Healey, becomes an inaugural member of the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. Besides creating a certification system, the Commission oversees processes for decertification, suspension of certification or reprimand in the event of certain misconduct. The law came in response to reform demands in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.
The law, approved in December, requires Gov. Charlie Baker and Healey to appoint three commissioners each and, together, appoint another three members. Each member is eligible to serve five years. Baker chose retired Judge Margaret R. Hinkle, who served from 1993 to 2011 as a Superior Court justice, as chair of the Commission.
“By establishing a Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, the Commonwealth is taking an important step to improve public safety and increase trust between members of law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said Baker. Healey added, “This new Commission will help enhance accountability and transparency, build public trust, bolster public safety and provide enhanced training, guidance and support to police officers across our state.”
Kazarosian is an experienced trial attorney who has been practicing in Massachusetts since 1982, handling multiple high-profile cases that have gained her recognition in New England and across the country. Kazarosian is currently a partner at Kazarosian Costello, where her practice areas include civil rights law, discrimination cases and police misconduct cases. She is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys and Essex County Bar Association. She currently co-chairs the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association. She represented several women in a landmark gender discrimination suit against the Haverhill Country Club that garnered the attention of national media. She secured a $3.9 million financial judgment that was later upheld by the state appeals court, the first time a state’s public accommodations law was said to apply to discrimination in a country club setting.
She then pivoted to representing plaintiffs in police misconduct and excessive force cases. Attorney Kazarosian is a frequent commentator on legal issues for various media outlets and teaches trial advocacy courses for continuing legal education. She was appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to serve on the Board of Bar Overseers and the Advisory Committee on Ethical Opinions for Clerks of Court and continues to serve in both capacities. She was also appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court to serve on the Special Nominating Commission for the Supreme Judicial Court in 2016. Attorney Kazarozian is a graduate of Phillips Academy Andover, and earned her Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School and a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.