Thursday, March 23, 2017
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno announced today that Police Commissioner John Barbieri has appointed retired Superior Court Judge Bertha Josephson to act as the Hearing Officer along with the City’s Community Police Hearing Board (CPHB) to decide the disciplinary case stemming from a complaint of excessive force arising from an incident involving off duty officers that occurred near the Nathan Bill’s Restaurant and Bar in April of 2015.
Judge Josephson retired in January of 2016 after 24 years on the bench. Admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1978, Josephson was appointed Associate Justice to the Superior Court in 1994 by Governor William F. Weld, and had previously sat as a District Court Judge in Chicopee District Court from 1992 until 1994. She is a 1978 graduate of Western New England University School of Law and has an undergraduate degree from Skidmore College. She is the co-author of “Legal Issues of Female Inmates,” a report to the National Institute of Corrections, published by Smith College in 1982. Judge Josephson has been active as a lecturer in continuing legal education seminars on topics involving trial methods. Prior to her service as a Judge, Attorney Josephson worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and an Assistant District Attorney, as well as a private practitioner.
The hearing is going forward now that a criminal investigation of the complaint has been completed by the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office. The administrative hearing will involve testimony and cross examination of witnesses under oath, similar to a court proceeding. It will be held in an Executive Session of the CPHB on multiple days to be set in the near future, and arranged with the lawyers for the City’s Labor Relations Department, lawyers for the officers, the witnesses, and the Board members. The hearing will be posted in conformance with the state Open Meeting Law.
Mayor Sarno said, “First of all, Commissioner Barbieri and I are very thankful that Judge Josephson has accepted our request. She is a highly respected jurist that only adds to the dedication, honesty, integrity and professionalism of the current and diverse CPHB members, chaired by Atty. Hector Zavala. Now that DA Gulluni has concluded his review, and as I and Commissioner Barbieri had stated before, we would do our own proceedings, and we are in the process of doing that as soon as possible. I had stated previously that we would pursue a retired jurist for this issue and we have followed through. I will continue to stand by Commissioner Barbieri and our brave and dedicated ‘men and women in blue’. They have a very difficult job to do. This process is all about accountability and mutual respect for our community and our police officers. Unprofessional substantiated behavior/actions will not be tolerated and, as has been done previously – penalties will be rendered where appropriate. Again, this is about due process, and ‘let the chips fall where they may or may not’."