Individual talents, collective ambition, competing together.
Get Isabelle to defend you is the best advice a person accused of a crime can have. The reasons? Her commitment to clients, her ambition to compete, her talent in trial, and her French accent. Isabelle was born and raised in France where she literally grew up in her father’s courtroom among the prosecutors, defense lawyers and always innocent-until-proven-otherwise accused who peopled his long career as a judge.
Isabelle obtained her first Law Degree from the prestigious school of Sciences-Po Paris. She clerked in Paris for a Judge with jurisdiction over international white-collar crime, and then interned with an eccentric group of defense lawyers and prosecutors. Because her passion has always been to represent people charged with the most serious crimes, she accepted a position with the legal department at the French Embassy in Washington D.C., where she worked on anti-death penalty projects.
Isabelle attended law school in the U.S. at Duke University, graduating in 2010. She received multiple awards for her pro bono work with the Innocence Project, the Street Law Project, the International Law Society, and the ACLU (Capital Punishment Project). Isabelle’s excellence in the essential skills of trial work was recognized when she received the prestigious Bidlake Award.
In 2012, Isabelle accepted a position at the Office of the Public Defender in Rockville, Maryland. The rising star of her legal career representing at trial the innocent-until-proven-otherwise quickly became a counterpoint to the customary and usual practices of the defense bar pleading out indigent clients. In the often-brawling setting of state criminal courts, Isabelle’s guiding principle in every case was “litigate to win” for her client. She insisted that every client’s case be prepared to go to trial. Most of her work as a public defender was therefore trial work in all types of criminal cases—judge and jury—including misdemeanor traffic violations, trespasses, drug cases, assaults, thefts, resisting arrest, and felony drug distributions, child abuse cases (physical and sexual), sex offenses, first degree assaults, and murder. The successful results of her trial work in both ordinary and complex cases prosecuted in the criminal courts have earned her the respect of the bench and bar, and most importantly, the profound admiration of her clients.
Isabelle became a partner at RaquinMercer because she loves to litigate for her clients. If you are looking for her, look in a courtroom, she is probably in a trial. And most often in that courtroom, you will find yourself in the company of defense lawyers (some of whom you may have considered retaining) and prosecutors who are eager to learn from Isabelle’s cross-examination of witnesses and closing arguments to a jury.
Isabelle is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and the Montgomery County Bar Association.
Isabelle is admitted to practice law in New York and Maryland.
Steve Mercer is a practicing lawyer in Maryland (1995) and the District of Columbia (1997). Steve’s experience and expertise focus on the use of scientific evidence in criminal and civil litigation. Steve is considered one of the nation’s top attorneys on the subject of complex mixtures of touch DNA. Steve has over two decades of trial, appellate, and post-conviction experience, primarily in private practice. Since 2010, Steve has been the Chief Attorney of the Forensics Division, nationally recognized as a model of excellence in forensic science litigation.
Steve’s litigation highlights include challenges to a wide range of DNA/forensic science disciplines, from complex mixtures of touch DNA, presumptive serological and drug tests, microscopic hair comparison, synthetic fiber comparison, cell phone tracking, “shaken baby” child abuse, and many others. Significantly, the scope of Steve’s experience extends beyond a challenge to the methodology at issue to include assessing every avenue of litigation to block or neutralize DNA/forensic science evidence. Because of his experience, Steve can anticipate, identify and litigate novel issues about the collection, retention and use of DNA/forensic science evidence that other lawyers won’t spot.
In a ground-breaking case, Steve litigated in 2002 the first constitutional challenge to Maryland’s DNA collection statute, (Maryland v. Raines) which laid the groundwork for his later representation of a client before the United States Supreme Court in a case which one justice described as “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this Court has heard in decades.” (Maryland v. King). Steve is widely recognized in Maryland trial and appellate courts for his DNA/forensic science litigation.
Steve is also actively involved in legislation, education, and public commentary on issues involving the reliability of forensic science and the impact of technology on civil liberties. Steve led the successful effort before the Maryland General Assembly and the D.C. Council to ban familial searching of DNA data banks. He is a frequent speaker at DNA trainings for judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and laboratory analysts. Steve is passionate about the particular issues related to DNA mixtures, touch DNA, the continued expansion of law enforcement DNA databanks, and emerging law enforcement techniques such as using the similarities of DNA between related persons to identify family members of individuals in a DNA databank. His views are often discussed and debated in national news media.
Steve’s media highlights include his appearance on CBS’s Sixty Minutes newsmagazine program in a segment that focused on the emerging practice of “familial” and kinship searching of DNA databanks. Steve has also been featured on the topic of familial DNA searching of databanks in numerous other media outlets such as HBO Vice, the PBS program, Religion and Ethics News Weekly, MSNBC and ABC News. Also featured in the media are Steve’s efforts to draw attention to the emerging practice of law enforcement to operate unregulated DNA databanks containing DNA of crime victims and innocent people.
Steve has addressed by invitation the Maryland Judicial Training Institute on the topic of complex mixtures of touch DNA, the FBI’s national CODIS symposium on the privacy and racial justice implications of familial searching of DNA databanks, and addressed these same topics before the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and the National Institute of Justice. In 2016, Steve addressed by invitation the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) on issues related to the use of scientific evidence in criminal trials.
Steve is committed to meaningful reforms of DNA/forensic science disciplines. In 2011 Governor Martin O’Malley appointed Steve to represent the State of Maryland on the Education, Ethics, and Terminology (EET) Interagency Working Group, established to support the Subcommittee on Forensic Sciences, (SoFS) and the Executive Office of the President on policies, procedures, and plans related to forensic science at the local, state and federal levels.
Steve’s publications include a critical account of the Raines decision for Maryland practitioners, Maryland’s DNA Databank, Nov./Dec. 2004 Md. B.J. 17 and a law review article on local DNA databanking practices, Shadow Dwellers: The Underregulated World of State and Local DNA Databases 69 N.Y.U. Ann. Surv. Am. L. 639 (2014).
Steve is an Adjunct Professor at the David A. Clarke School of Law, where he teaches an advanced evidence class on scientific evidence.
Competing for Clients Together
Isabelle and Steve share the same passion for criminal defense work. They enjoy the fight inherent to criminal cases and love to challenge every aspect of their clients’ cases, every step of the way. They thrive in the complexity of cases involving forensics science. No case, no science is too difficult for them to comprehend or too hard to contest. Their ethic is to litigate to win. Their ambition is to be a leader in the field of criminal defense work and forensic sciences.
Isabelle and Steve compete together to achieve the best outcome for their clients. They use a collective and collaborative approach, work on cases together, and always consult each other. Clients in our firm are our clients. Isabelle and Steve complete each other’s skills.
Isabelle and Steve like to fight cases, however, they also understand that behind each case is a client. Our clients receive attention, communication, care, and respect. Because we believe successful outcomes for our clients go beyond the legal issues, we get to know our clients, their families, their hopes, and their fear. We build a professional relationship of trust that allows us to be effective and persuasive advocates for our clients, now and in the future.
Contact RaquinMercer about Steve and Isabelle representing you.