WINS & PREVIOUS CASES
Every case is different. Erica J. Suter is not suggesting that the same results can be achieved in future cases.
Some examples of Erica’s previous cases include:
Court of Appeals: Attorney General Consents to Relief
Ms. Suter filed an Appeal of the Denial of DNA Post Conviction without a hearing. After receiving Ms. Suter’s brief, the Office of the Attorney General conceded that the Court should reverse the decision of the Circuit Court, which denied the petition without a hearing, and remand to the lower court for a hearing. Ms. Suter then filed a joint request for remand that Court of Appeals granted.
Court of Special Appeals: Attempted First Degree Murder Conviction Reversed
Ms. Suter argued on appeal on behalf of a client who was convicted of attempted murder and related charges. The Court of Special Appeals reversed the convictions and ordered a new trial in a unanimous opinion based on the trial court’s refusing to ask, during jury selection, whether jurors harbored racial bias against the defendant.
Application for Leave to Appeal: First Degree Murder Conviction and Sentence Vacated
After a Baltimore City Court denied the Motion to Reopen based on “advisory only jury instructions,” Ms. Suter filed an Application for Leave to Appeal. The Court of Special Appeals granted the Application and ultimately ordered that Ms. Suter’s client was entitled to have his Motion to Reopen granted and his sentence and conviction vacated.
Application for Leave to Appeal: ALA Granted from the Denial of a Post Conviction Petition in Second Degree Murder Case
After a Washington County Court denied the Post Conviction Petition, Ms. Suter filed an Application for Leave to Appeal. Application for Leave to Appeal was granted. Case was set in for full briefing and oral argument.
PETITION FOR WRIT OF ACTUAL INNOCENCE & MOTION TO REOPEN
Felony Murder Conviction and Life Sentence Vacated
In Prince George’s County, Ms. Suter filed a Petition for Writ of Actual Innocence based on the now defunct science of Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis and a Brady violation. The State conceded that Petitioner was entitled to a new trial and the court vacated Petitioner’s life sentence and conviction for felony murder.
Life Sentences Modified Resulting in Immediate Release
In Baltimore City, Ms. Suter successfully represented two clients who raised the advisory-only jury instruction issue in Motions to Reopen. In each case, the State consented to a modification from life to life suspend all but time served. Both clients, one who served forty-seven years on a life sentence and one who served thirty-eight years on a life sentence, walked out of the court house that day and were reunited with their families. Also in Baltimore City, Ms. Suter successfully represented a client on a Motion to Reopen based on ineffective assistance of post conviction counsel for failing to post convict trial counsel for failing to object to “were they lying” questions of the defendant. The defendant had be incarcerated since he was 15 years old. The court granted a hearing on the Motion. Ms. Suter successfully negotiated a time served sentence and the client who was serving life for felony murder was released just after his 50th birthday. Baltimore City, Ms. Suter secured the right to file a motion for modification of sentence through a Motion to Reopen.
First Degree Murder Conviction and Life Sentence Vacated
In Calvert County, Ms. Suter successfully litigated a Motion to Reopen based on the advisory-only jury instruction issue. Court ordered that the Post Conviction be Reopened and then transferred the case back to St. Mary’s County. Following a contested post conviction hearing in St. Mary’s County, the client prevailed and the court ordered that his 1975 first degree murder conviction and life (plus) sentence be vacated and that a new trial be held. The State filed an Application for Leave to Appeal, which was denied. Ms. Suter then negotiated with the State for a time served sentence and the client was released.
Life Sentence Modified to Time Served
In Harford County, Ms. Suter successfully negotiated the settlement of a client’s case whereby the sentence for first degree murder and use of a dangerous and deadly weapon was reduced from Life to Life suspend all but forty years with three years probation pursuant to a pending Motion to Reopen and Petition for Writ of Actual Innocence. The new sentence resulted in the client’s immediate release (he walked out of the courthouse that day without returning to DOC) and reunion with his family after thirty-two years of incarceration.
MOTION FOR HEALTH GENERAL DRUG TREATMENT
Life Sentences Modified Resulting in Immediate Release; Lifetime Supervision Ended
In a Prince George’s County murder case, a client, who had been paroled from Patuxent Institution, was once again facing a life sentence after a probation violation. The client prevailed on a Health General Motion. The client was placed in treatment and his sentence was modified from life for Felony murder to life suspend all but 33 years and five years unsupervised probation. This client was able to walk out of the court room and reunite with his family on the day before Thanksgiving. The client’s relief was twofold, he was released from custody and reunited with his family and he was relieved of the extremely burdensome Patuxent lifetime supervision.
State Consents to Modifying Binding Plea
In St. Mary’s County, Ms. Suter successfully negotiated with the State who agreed to the client’s being placed in Health General Drug Treatment, despite his having received a twenty year sentence for armed robbery as a result of entering a binding plea. Generally speaking, a court typically will not (and usually cannot under the law) modify any binding sentence without the consent of the State. The court noted that it was the first time, in his history on the bench, that he had ever ordered a defendant into drug treatment pursuant to the Heath General Article.
MOTION TO RECONSIDER SENTENCE
After Serving 24 Years From What was Originally a Life Sentence for First Degree Murder, to Time Served Resulting in Immediate Release
In Charles County, Ms. Suter successfully advocated for a client who received a life sentence as a juvenile. The client’s sentence was ultimately modified so that he was immediately released. This was the tenth “lifer” for whom Ms. Suter obtained relief since establishing her own practice in 2011.
After Serving Five Years, Fifteen Year Sentence Modified to Time Served Resulting in Immediate Release
In Prince George’s County, Ms. Suter successfully argued for a sentence modification in an armed robbery case. The client’s sentence was reduced from fifteen years to five years, which resulted in his immediate release.
Client’s sentence reduced from 50 to 40 years
In Prince George’s County, Ms. Suter successfully argued for a sentence modification in a second degree murder case. The client’s sentence was reduced from fifty years to forty.
Client’s sentences changed from consecutive to concurrent resulting in a 15 year sentence reduction
In Baltimore City, Ms. Suter successfully argued for a sentence modification in an attempt murder and influencing witness case. Client’s sentence was reduced by 15 years with the possibility of further reduction in the future.
MOTION TO CORRECT ILLEGAL SENTENCE
Motion to correct illegal sentence
In Prince George’s County, Ms. Suter successfully pursued a motion to correct illegal sentence where a defendant was improperly sentenced as a second time violent offender.
State consents to significant sentence reduction resulting in immediate release
In Baltimore County, Ms. Suter was retained to try and get her client in drug treatment. However, upon review of the sentencing transcript, Ms. Suter noticed that the sentencing court had pronounced sentence in an ambiguous manner that provided the basis to file a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence. After filing, Ms. Suter and the State were able to reach an agreement that was approved by the Court, reduced the client’s sentence by 15 years, and resulted in the client’s immediate release.
POST CONVICTION & CORAM NOBIS
State consents to post conviction relief and client’s sentence is reduced from 67 years to 27 years
In St. Mary’s County, Ms. Suter argued that because the court failed to announce whether the sentences were consecutive or concurrent after each count and did not say consecutive until the fourth count, that the Petitioner’s sentence was actually a 27 year sentence despite the court’s subjective intent. In exchange for Petitioner withdrawing the rest of his post conviction claims, the State agreed that Petitioner was entitled to the 40 year reduction in his sentence.
Post Conviction Relief Granted in Baltimore City
Ms. Suter successfully litigated a post conviction petition in Baltimore City resulting in the court granting relief from the bench.
In Howard County, a client was facing imminent deportation as a result of entering pleas in two separate cases to conspiracy to commit first degree burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ms. Suter filed a Post Conviction in one case and a Petition for Writ of Error Coram Nobis in the other. Ms. Suter successfully negotiated with two separate Assistant State’s Attorneys who ultimately agreed that the client was entitled to relief. Both convictions were vacated with the consent of the State. Also in Howard County, a client was in expedited deportation proceedings and was being held in Howard County Detention Center based on two guilty pleas in District Court for theft and unlawful taking of a vehicle. Based on the age and cases, all records of the cases had been destroyed. Nonetheless, Ms. Suter successfully negotiated with the State who conceded coram nobis relief. Both convictions were vacated. The State entered a nolle prosequi to one case and permitted the defendant to plead to a lesser charge in the other case. The client was released from custody that same day and deportation proceedings were vacated.