RaquinMercer Blog

What’s New July 2020

COVID-19 Updates: Compassionate Release for Federal Inmates and DC Code Offenders Through the First Step Act, Congress sought to revive compassionate release of inmates by allowing them to directly petition courts for relief from their sentence, rather than leaving that power solely in the hands of the BOP.  Under the First Step Act, a court may […]

What’s New in June

Courts are beginning to reopen. However, given the manner COVID-19 transmits, and the nature of in-person court proceedings, especially jury trials, there remains a severe public health risk to participants. The measures proposed to address these concerns include virtual hearings, social distancing, masks, and shields. The “new normal” for a criminal jury trial threatens the […]

May COVID Motions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, getting our clients out of jail is our priority. For client held presentence in Maryland, DC, or federal custody, we are pressing forward with bond review motions, motion to recall warrants or convert to summons, and alternatives to pretrial detention. For our clients held postsentence, we are seeking relief through motions […]

Governor Hogan Orders Expedited Release and Parole Consideration of Certain Inmates in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in State Prisons and Local Jails

On April 18, 2020, Governor Hogan issued an Order “Implementing Alternative Correctional Detention and Supervision” related to the COVID-19 crisis in the Department of Corrections. The Governor’s Order provides certain inmates with (1) expedited release; (2) expedited home detention; and (3) accelerated parole consideration. The Order establishes the following criteria for each category. Expedited release:  The […]

What’s New In April

While we are all at home under a stay-in-place order, RaquinMercer continues to fight for our clients. We are available to consult with you by phone or video conference regarding your case or loved one’s case. We are staying in touch with our clients in jail to keep up to date on conditions during this […]

March Motions!

Motions practice and Pre-Trial Litigation is a huge part of RaquinMercer’s litigation strategy. Motions to Dismiss, Motions to Suppress, Motions to Sever, and Motions to Exclude are used in almost every case we have. Motions in Limine – in writing and in advance of the trial date – are the most tactical tools we used […]


Appeal Your Case with RaquinMercer! With two cases already overturned in 2019, two briefs written last month, two more due in February, and several oral arguments to come in the Spring, RaquinMercer has established a serious appellate practice in Maryland. Click to see our recent wins! Case 1 | Case 2

Happy New Year 2020!

This past year has been incredible, thanks to our wonderful clients and our dedicated team here at RaquinMercer. We just want to say how grateful we are for your continued support, and we’re wishing you all the best as we enter this exciting new year. Isabelle and Steve

Unregulated Public and Private DNA Databanks Need Legislative Supervision

DNA databanks are proliferating outside of the FBI’s CODIS network of law enforcement databanks and the regulatory framework that presently governs the collection, retention and distribution of DNA samples and records. These shadow DNA databanks primarily exist at the local level and belong to local police agencies, or to private companies that sell databank related […]

Ancestry DNA: Consider Privacy Risks of Familial Searching

People who submit DNA for ancestry testing can unwittingly become genetic informants on their innocent family members when the police search an ancestry DNA databanks for partial matches. Until there are meaningful statutory protections and robust quality assurance safeguards, law enforcement should not search an ancestry databank for family members related to the individual who submitted the DNA sample. There is […]

COSA Indifferent to Warrant-less Use of Facial Recognition

COSA Treating it as Modern-Day Equivalent of Telephone Tip Facial profiling technology is a new weapon in the investigative arsenal with big-data implications for the collection, use, and retention of facial images (and gait—for longer range identification) in biometric fusion databanks. A recent Maryland intermediate appellate decision, Geiger v. State, Court of Special Appeals (December […]

Watch John Oliver Call Out “Bullshit” Reliability Of Forensic Science

Although DNA/forensic science may appear to swiftly and reliably solve crimes with flashy graphics on television crime dramas, John Oliver called out the “bullshit” of forensic science on “Last Week, Tonight” (originally aired Oct. 1, 2017). HBO has posted Oliver’s focus segment on YouTube.  Oliver explains the surprising problem with a wide-range of forensic “science” […]

Challenging A Positive Drug Test In A VOP Hearing

Part 1 – The Certification of an Analyst Do you face an upcoming violation of probation hearing or a drug court sanction hearing for testing positive? The common tactic is to demand the presence of the analyst and persons in the chain of custody and hope someone doesn’t show up.  For a number of reasons, […]

COA Clarifies Maryland’s Hybrid Legal Standard

Rochkind:  The COA Clarifies Maryland’s Hybrid Daubert/Frye Legal Framework Governing Admissibility Of Expert Testimony. In Rochkind v. Stevenson, 454 Md. 277 (2017) the COA took a close look at the third prong of Rule 5-702, which requires that an expert’s opinion be based on a sufficient factual basis. Rochkind is one in a series of […]

Bath Salt Users—Analogous Drug Act Alert

Drug Test Alert.  Contact RaquinMercer if you are charged with knowingly possessing, distributing, or PWID, of an “analogue” CDS alleged to be “substantially similar” in chemical structure and effect to a scheduled CDS.  The Supreme Court in McFadden v. United States answered the question whether a person charged with possessing an analogue CDS must “know” of its illegal character.  […]

Limits Of Cell Phone Location Evidence

3 NG’s in Murder Trials Highlight Limits Of Cell Phone Location Evidence Appointed public defenders recently secured acquittals in three murder prosecutions involving cell phone location evidence that was central to the State’s theories of guilt.  These defense victories demonstrate the effectiveness of employing a litigation process that can work across the wide range of […]

Drug Court Decision in Brookman – Carnes v. State

The COSA Holds Drug Court Sanction Involving Jail Is Appealable; Due Process Rights of Participants Violated When Drug Failed To Conduct Formal Adversarial Hearing.  Reported in the Court of Special Appeals (April 27, 2017):  Brookman v. State (No. 182) & Carnes v. State (No. 183) (Nazarian, Arthur, Thieme, JJ.).  Opinion by Nazarian, J.  Argued by […]

Cell Phone Location – Challenging the Factual Basis Under Prong One

Challenging The Factual Basis Of Historical Cell Site/Tower Location Opinion Evidence Under Rule 5-702 Cellular service has become an integral part of our daily life.  But it does not follow from our user experience with reliable cellular service that historical location information derived from call detail records is similarly reliable.  (This blog does not address […]

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

Steve Mercer Invited to Address the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) (Washington, D.C.) On January 14, 2016, Steve Mercer addressed by invitation PCAST during a closed session. Steve also submitted this written statement discussing the powerful incentives in criminal cases for police dominated laboratories to issue biased reports and the critical […]

Confrontation Clause Update

June 2014 At its May 22nd conference, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in twelve of the fifteen petitions–some held since the beginning of the term–that asked the Court to resolve the conflict in lower courts over when a forensic science report is testimonial for Confrontation Clause purposes. The twelve petitions included Confrontation Clause challenges to autopsy and toxicology reports, […]

Common Law Dying Declaration

On May 27, the Court of Special Appeals in State v. Hailes, 2014 Md. App. LEXIS 49 (2014) (Moylan, J.), held that a common law dying declaration (not the broader rule based dying declaration) is exempt from the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause, and that the content of the declaration–which was an extra-judicial identification (photo array)–is only subject (under […]

Simpson v. State

Trial Court Erred When It Permitted A Police Officer To Testify As A Lay Witness About The Detection Of Accelerants By Canine Simpson v. State – No: 2833, Sept. 25, 2013 (COSA Sept. Term 2012) (Hotten, J.).  On appeal from the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County (Pearson, J.) COSA held the trial court erred when it permitted a […]