Statement of Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney on the Appointment of Helene Kazanjian as Associate Justice of the Superior Court – May 18, 2016

Before Helen Kazanjian applied to the Massachusetts Superior Court in 2015, she had previously applied in 2013.  At that time, she was recommended to the Governor by the Judiciary Nominating Commission (JNC) but rejected by the Governor.   

I recently investigated and found that Attorney Kazanjian was rejected by a former Governor for nominee - Joseph Berman- who had been rejected for a District court judgeship in a past year by the JNC  because he had no trials – in addition had no criminal experience in the District Court.  

Despite the facts, in 2013 the Governor rejected Attorney Kazanjian and appointed Joseph Berman to a higher court - the Superior Court - again with no trial experience in the Superior court and no criminal experience.

This is an example of what I speak of so often – that sometimes a qualified nominee is bumped by a political nominee. Helene Kazanjian was rejected for Attorney Berman.

Helene Kazanjian has had more than 100 jury trials with as many non-jury trials and was rejected.

If you recall Mr. Berman was very unique – in making his presentation before the Governor’s Council. Unlike other nominees instead of speaking about his legal experience and qualifications in his opening remarks at his hearing he boasted about his political fundraising skills  -heading campaign offices and  fundraisers.

He donated $175,000 in political contributions himself.

I publicly commend Helen Kazanjian for reapplying as so many other attorneys when bypassed by an unqualified nominee will never apply again.

Helene Kazanjian has been practicing law nearly thirty years.  She brings life experience with maturity to the bench.  Besides endorsements for her qualifications, her demeanor and temperament have also been noted.  I was especially pleased with her extensive work relating to drugs which is so important today  – OxyContin investigations, related prescription fraud, etc. She had to make significant decisions for example whether an arrest or search a person or premises was warranted. She will be presented with many like cases in the Superior Court.

I have said it publicly that in my observance during my tenure – a judge who has had no criminal experience as an attorney will be reluctant and afraid to give the appropriate sentence when it is called for. I am confident that Attorney Kazanjian is well qualified to make such decisions.

In her questionnaire, Attorney Kazanjian stated “that a judge needs to have the courage to make decisions even under challenging and complex circumstances.  A good judge does not let the fear of being wrong paralyze him or her from making the difficult decisions.”

In contrast to the previous nominee voted last week – Attorney Kazanjian answered every question in the JNC questionnaire directly and precisely. Our last nominee for Juvenile Court was asked in the JNC questionnaire to list 3 cases and she could only list one.

As I have reported recently, I again advise the JNC members to please look more closely at the nominee’s responses when recommending a life time position as a judge. I am pleased today to vote YES for the appointment of Helene Kazanjian to the Superior Court.

Respectfully submitted,


Marilyn M. Petitto Devaney