Hon. Doug Nazarian
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
When Doug Nazarian went to law school, his father got a sympathy card from a doctor friend.
Nazarian, a Yale graduate, also had expected his next step to be medical school, the path of many in his family. But after a semester of obligatory pre-med biology and math courses, brightened by a psychology class, his interests began moving him toward a different path.
“I really connected, not only with the material, but the idea of trying to understand people better,” said Nazarian, now a judge on Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals.
The analytical processes used in the law and psychology are similar, he said. And law and psychology share a connection with people and the ability to understand some of their problems.
His own interest in people and community service has been themes throughout his career. As coordinator of pro bono work in the Baltimore office of Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells), Nazarian put together a team of lawyers to represent black motorists wrongly detained and searched along Maryland highways.
He also provided free legal representation to inmates wrongly detained in Maryland prisons, Alabama children in foster care and clients of a sexual assault/spousal abuse resource center in Bel Air.
Before his appointment to the appellate court in 2013, Nazarian served as chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, where he previously was general counsel. Over more than four years as PSC chairman, he led consideration of utilities’ requests for rate hikes, mergers and public complaints about unreliable electric service and frequent, prolonged storm-related outages.
All was preparation for being “struck by lightning,” which is one way he describes the opportunity to be a judge.
“This is what I always wanted to do since law school,” Nazarian said. “I clerked for a federal appellate judge and knew, after that year was over, that this is the gig I wanted.”