Haverhill attorney named to state group monitoring police officers across Massachusetts | Haverhill
HAVERHILL – Local attorney Marsha Kazarosian made a name for herself nationwide in 1999 when she won a landmark discrimination lawsuit against Haverhill Country Club on behalf of women.
Over the years she has represented victims of police misconduct, including excessive violence by officers. She is an expert on civil rights and discrimination.
Now Kazarosian is joining a judge, law enforcement officers, and other top professionals responsible for ensuring that police across Massachusetts are held accountable for their actions.
Kazarosian was appointed to the newly created Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST for short). She is one of nine members of the group. Its work begins with the nation’s debate on issues such as the use of force by officers and racial profiling.
The commission will create a mandatory certification process for Massachusetts law enforcement officers – essentially a list of standards they must meet in order to be licensed for the job. The Commission will also develop methods of depriving officials of their certification and other penalties such as suspension or reprimand for wrongdoing.
The POST group is responsible for improving the relationship between the police force and the communities they serve. Kazarosian and her fellow Commissioners will work to improve the accountability and transparency of police forces, increase public confidence in the police and better educate officers, according to the organizers of the commission.
The Commission will closely monitor police departments across the state – investigations and Settlement of claims for misconduct; and maintaining databases of training, certification and internal records for all officers. The Commission will be responsible for ensuring that the records of officials’ training and misconduct are available to their current and potential employers.
The POST commission begins its work as the murder trial of former Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin begins. He is charged with killing 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man whose neck was under Chauvin’s knee for several minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and covered up during his arrest on May 25, 2020 for allegedly falsifying a bill had used.
Kazarosian is a partner at Kazarosian Costello LLP in Haverhill, where she focuses on civil rights, discrimination cases and police misconduct cases.
A report released in November 2019 by chartered accountant Suzanne Bump said Massachusetts has one of the highest time requirements for police training in the nation – a compulsory 40 hours per year per officer. However, according to the study, the state does not provide enough training for officials to meet the requirements. The state also has no way of holding officials and their communities accountable for meeting training requirements, the study said.
Bump urged Massachusetts lawmakers to set up the POST commission and set minimum standards for education, regulate training programs, and set other requirements for law enforcement officers to maintain their certification.
Attorney General Maura Healey was forced to appoint an attorney appointed by the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Civil Rights and Social Justice Council to serve on the POST commission. Healey appointed Kazarosian to this position.
Kazarosian joins other professionals from across the state – including a police chief, a judge, a psychologist, a chaplain, a lawyer and a social worker – who have also been appointed to the commission. She is the only member who has done her professional job in the Merrimack Valley.
Kazarosian is a veteran litigator who has practiced law in Massachusetts since 1982, handling high profile cases recognized in New England and across the country. This comes from a press release from Governor Charlie Baker and the Attorney General’s office.
“In establishing a commission for standards and training for peace officers, the Commonwealth is taking an important step to improve public safety and build trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve,” said Baker. “We are excited to appoint a variety of experts to the POST Commission and look forward to their work in creating a more effective, fairer, and more accountable law enforcement system in Massachusetts.”
“Each of these officers brings unique expertise and experience to this commission as we initiate significant reforms in our state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Healey.
Kazarosian is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association and continues to serve on the bar’s executive board. She began her career as a criminal defense attorney with Essex Count y Bar Advocates, eventually focusing on civil rights and discrimination cases.
In the case of gender discrimination on behalf of women against Haverhill Country Club, Kazarosian won a $ 3.9 million verdict for plaintiffs, which was later upheld by the state appeals court. It was the first time a state’s public accommodation law applies to discrimination in a country club.
Kazarosian then switched to representing plaintiffs in cases of misconduct and excessive violence against police officers.
Kazarosian has consistently received honors from her peers. She has been named a Super Lawyer annually by New England Super Lawyers Magazine since 2006 in the areas of civil rights, personal injury litigation and family law. She was most recently listed on the Top 50: 2020 Women Massachusetts Super Lawyers List and was also included in the list of Top 50 Women Lawyers in New England.