OPD’s Forensics Division has quickly become noted nationally as one of the premier Forensic Science litigation units in the country. The tragic and continuing saga of wrongful convictions is that many are avoidable had there been meaningful scrutiny of the scientific evidence.

Forensics Division

6 St. Paul Street- Suite 1400
Baltimore, MD 21202


Steve Mercer, Chief Attorney
Mr. Mercer is the Chief Attorney for the Forensics Division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia, where he teaches an advance course on forensic science and expert testimony. Before joining the Public Defender, Mr. Mercer maintained a private criminal defense practice in Maryland for fifteen years, where he focused on cases involving forensic science. Mr. Mercer is actively involved in litigation and public commentary on issues arising at the intersection of DNA testing and civil liberties, including appearing on CBS’s 60 Minutes newsmagazine program, focusing on the emerging practice of familial searching of DNA data banks, on PBS’ Religion and Ethics News Weekly program, and on MSNBC regarding DNA databank and privacy issues. Mr. Mercer has also appeared by invitation at national symposiums to address the privacy implications of DNA databases and familial searching.

Jeffrey Gilleran, Assistant Public Defender
Mr. Gilleran is a founding member of the Forensics Division. Prior to that, he practiced in the felony trial division in Baltimore City. He has been involved in complex litigation including capital cases and pretrial admissibility challenges to a wide range of forensic evidence. Mr. Gilleran’s expertise includes emerging trends in DNA analysis and “shaken baby syndrome.” He continues to train attorneys on forensic science and trial skills.

Mary Pizzo, Supervising Attorney for Mental Health Litigation Support
Ms. Pizzo received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1993 and has been with the Office of the Public Defender since that time. She has worked with the CINA division, the Appellate division, and the Howard County office prior to assuming the Supervising Attorney position in the newly created Mental Health Litigation Support team. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Pizzo received her B.S. and M.S. in Nursing from the University of Maryland. She was certified as a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist and served in that capacity in the child and adolescent psychiatric units at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Cheryl Hughes-Redd, Paralegal
Ms. Hughes-Redd joined the Office of the Public Defender in 2004 as a paralegal for the CINA division in Baltimore City. In 2007 she began working as a paralegal for the Innocence Project before joining the forensics division in 2008.

Shantel Collins, Administrative Assistant
Ms. Collins is a highly experienced and respected Administrative Assistant who first joined the Office of the Public Defender as a receptionist in 2006. In 2007 she became the office secretary for Administration, and in 2010 she began an assignment in our Fiscal Department. Ms. Collins joined the Forensic Division in April 2013.