Stephen B. Mercer
Adjunct Professor of Law
B.A., Syracuse University; J.D., magna cum laude, District of Columbia School of Law.
Professor Mercer is a practicing attorney in Maryland (1995) and the District of Columbia (1997) at the law firm of RaquinMercer LLC. From 2010 to 2017, Professor Mercer was the Chief Attorney of the Forensics Division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, nationally recognized as a model of excellence in forensic science litigation. Professor Mercer’s experience and expertise focus on the use of scientific evidence in criminal and civil litigation. He is considered one of the nation’s top attorneys on the subject of complex mixtures of touch DNA.
Professor Mercer’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. In a ground-breaking case, Professor Mercer and (former) Professor “Will” McLain litigated in 2002 the first constitutional challenge to Maryland’s DNA collection statute, (Maryland v. Raines) which laid the groundwork for Professor Mercer’s 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).
Professor Mercer 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. Professor Mercer 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.
Professor Mercer’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. Professor Mercer 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 Professor Mercer’s efforts to draw attention to the relentless expansion by law enforcement of unregulated DNA databanks containing DNA of crime victims and innocent people.
Professor Mercer teaches the courses Forensic Scientific Evidence, Death Penalty and the Law, and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC I).
Selected Publications (in .pdf format)
- Stephen Mercer & Jessica Gabel, Shadow Dwellers: The Underregulated World of State and Local DNA Databases, 69 N.Y.U. Ann. Surv. Am. L. 639 (2014)