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Serving Montgomery, Prince George's,
Frederick, and Howard Counties in MD

The Passionate Pursuit of Justice, One Case at a Time

Nancy S. Forster, Of Counsel



  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit
  • Court of Appeals of Maryland

Professional memberships

  • Maryland State Bar Association
    • Treasurer, Maryland Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction Committee, 1999-2004
    • Member, Criminal Law Section Council, 2001-2004
  • American Bar Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • National Legal Aid and Defender Association
  • Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services
    • Member, 2002-2004
  • Access to Justice Commission
    • Member, 2009
  • Maryland Legislative Correctional Services Article Review Committee
    • Consultant, September 1997-February 1998
  • Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys' Association
    • President, 2005-2006
    • Treasurer, 2003-2004

Honors and awards

  • Recipient, William W. Cahill Jr. Award for Outstanding Commitment and Service to the Office of the Public Defender, April 24, 1998
  • Recommended for appointment to the Court of Special Appeals by the Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission, 2000
  • Recipient, Death Penalty Defense Award from the Office of the Public Defender "in recognition [of] outstanding advocacy in capital litigation, April 20, 2001
  • Recipient, Maryland Bar Foundation's 2005 Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of Unpopular Causes
  • Recipient, The Daily Record's 2005 Top Leadership in Law Award
  • Recipient, Super Lawyers' Top 25 Women in Maryland Law Award, 2006
  • Recipient, 2007 Woman of the Year Award from the University of Baltimore School of Law Women's Bar Association
  • Recommended for appointment to the Maryland Court of Appeals, Appellate Judicial Nominating Commission, 2007
  • Recipient, Super Lawyers Award, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012
  • Recipient, Nancy Moran Community Service Award for "unswerving efforts to protect and defend" the constitutional rights of inmates and for "efforts to prevent and reduce violent crime in Maryland" (awarded by inmates at the Jessup Correctional Institute)

Legal experience

  • Law Office of Nancy S. Forster, Towson, MD, 2009-present
    • Represent clients in a variety of criminal cases including appeals, post-convictions, and motions for modification of sentence
  • State of Maryland Office of the Public Defender, Baltimore, MD, 1984-2009
    • Public Defender for the State of Maryland, May 2004-August 2009
      • Oversaw an agency with an $85 million budget and over 1,000 employees dedicated to providing representation to indigent criminally accused persons. Assumed general responsibility for the operation of the Office of the Public Defender consisting of 12 districts, 41 offices statewide, and 7 statewide divisions. Formulated and adopted rules and regulations as necessary to effectuate the purposes of providing indigent criminal defense. Set policies regarding the provision of services to the indigent accused. Continued to handle and argue appellate cases before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, Maryland Court of Appeals, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and United States Supreme Court.
    • Deputy Public Defender, October 2001-April 2004
      • Second in command of a State agency consisting of almost 1,000 employees, responsible for delivering representation to indigent criminally accused individuals. Reported directly to the Maryland State Public Defender. Consulted with Public Defender regarding policy determinations affecting agency operations. Consulted with Public Defender to set budget priorities each fiscal year. Oversaw the preparation of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) budget submissions. Presented OPD budget requests to the Department of Budget and Management and the General Assembly. Maintained contact with the Department of Budget and Management and members of the House of Delegates and Senate regarding OPD budget requirements and interests. Allocated resources received through the budget process amongst the twelve district and five division offices. Approved expenditures requested by district and division offices. Oversaw agency personnel matters. Recommended to the Public Defender disciplinary measures to be taken when necessary. Allocated personnel resources. Approved attorney hiring recommendations made by District Public Defenders and Division Chiefs. Set salaries of new attorneys. Approved reclassification or promotion requests. Oversaw legislative initiatives of the OPD.
    • Chief, Appellate Division, December 1999-October 2001
      • Oversaw a staff of 20 attorneys and 20 administrative support members in the day-to-day operation of the Division, which represents indigent criminal defendants in approximately 100 appeals per month before the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Maintained contact with the Chief Judges of the courts of appeal, as well as with the Clerks of those courts regarding the interests of the Appellate Division. Provided advice to Division Staff Attorneys, as well as statewide trial attorneys. Evaluated the performance of Division Staff Attorneys. Monitored or performed various administrative functions of the Division including ordering transcripts for appeals, assigning cases, and reviewing briefs. Served on the Office of the Public Defender Statewide Hiring Committee (1995-2001) and the Justice Administration Council, a statewide policy-making committee for the Office of the Public Defender (1998-present). Managed a personal Appellate caseload of up to three cases per month.
    • Assistant Public Defender and Supervisor, Appellate Division, 1993-1999
      • As one of three Supervisors in the Division, shared supervisory responsibility for the work of 17 Staff Attorneys including reviewing briefs and preparing for oral argument, and maintained an Appellate caseload of approximately four-to-five Court of Special Appeals cases per month and one-to-two Court of Appeals cases per month. Wrote briefs that were filed in the Court of Special Appeals, Court of Appeals, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. Presented oral arguments in the Court of Special Appeals, Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Argued motions in the capital case of State of Maryland v. Scotland Eugene Williams in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
    • Assistant Public Defender, Appellate Division, 1985-1993
      • Prepared briefs and presented oral arguments in both the Court of Special Appeals and the Court of Appeals. Sat Second Chair in two U.S. Supreme Court cases and two Baltimore City death penalty trials.
    • Law Clerk, Appellate Division, October 1984-December 1984

Teaching experience

  • Adjunct Professor, University of Baltimore School of Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure I, 2006-present
  • Adjunct Professor (part time), University of Baltimore School of Law, Appellate Practice Clinic, 1994-2001
  • Supervisor, University of Maryland Law School, Appellate Practice Clinic, 1996-2001


  • Forster, N.S. and Braudes, M.R.; The Common Law of Maryland: An Important and Independent Source of Criminal Law and Procedure. Maryland Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, Vo. III, No. 2: Spring 1992.
  • Forster, N.S.; Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Maryland Criminal Defendants, Already Subject To Severely Limited Voir Dire, Now Also Face The Prospect Of Anonymous Juries. University of Baltimore Law Forum, Vol. Forty, No. 2: Spring 2010.

Nancy Forster has handled criminal cases in both state and federal courts for the past 25 years. She has argued hundreds of cases in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Maryland Court of Appeals. Additionally, Ms. Forster has argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as well as in the United States Supreme Court. She has been nominated for judgeship on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and the Maryland Court of Appeals. Few lawyers in the country are as well qualified to represent clients in criminal matters as Nancy Forster. And few, if any, have argued more times than Ms. Forster before Maryland’s highest court on criminal law issues. Below is a list of some of the more significant cases Ms. Forster has personally argued on appeal.

Significant cases

  • Fourth Amendment cases
    • Quince v. State, 319 Md. 430 (1990)
    • Simpler v. State, 318 Md. 311 (1990)
    • State v. Jones, 343 Md. 448 (1996)
    • Lee v. State, 311 Md. 642 (1988)
    • Crosby v. State, 408 Md. 490 (2009)
    • Larocca v. State, 164 Md.App. 460 (2005)
    • Thanner v. State, 93 Md.App. 134 (1992)
    • Russell v. State, 138 Md.App. 638 (2001)
    • Whitehead v. State, 116 Md.App. 497 (1997)
    • State v. Green, 375 Md. 595 (2003)
    • Scott v. State, 366 Md. 121 (2001)
    • Jones v. State, 407 Md. 33 (2008)
    • Brown v. State, 378 Md. 355 (2003)
    • Burks v. State, 96 Md.App. 173 (1993)
    • Dunnuck v. State, 367 Md. 198 (2001)
    • Williams v. State, 372 Md. 386 (2002)
  • Capital cases
    • Ware v. State, 348 Md. 19 (1997) (conviction reversed)
    • Woodson v. State, 325 Md. 251 (1992) (conviction reversed)
    • Richardson v. State, 324 Md. 611 (1996) (conviction reversed)
    • Harris v. State, 312 Md. 225 (1988) (conviction reversed)
    • Bruce v. State, 318 Md. 706 (1990) (sentence vacated)
    • Winder v. State, 362 Md. 275 (2001) (conviction reversed, confession suppressed)
    • Metheny v. State, 359 Md. 576 (2000) (conviction reversed)
    • Williams v. State, 342 Md. 724 (1996)(conviction reversed)
    • Collins v. State, 318 Md. 269 (1990)
    • Baker v. State, 332 Md. 542 (1993)
    • Thanos v. State, 330 Md. 576 (1993)
    • Oken v. State, 327 Md. 628 (1992)
    • Perry v. State, 344 Md. 204 (1996)
    • Miles v. State, 365 Md. 488 (2001)
  • Juvenile cases
    • In Re: Emileigh F., 353 Md. 30 (1999)
    • In Re: Barry E., 107 Md.App. 206 (1995)
    • In Re: Julianna B., 407 Md. 657 (2009)
  • Miscellaneous state cases
    • State v. Flansburg, 345 Md. 694 (1997)
    • Muhammad v. State, 177 Md.App. 188 (2007) (Beltway Sniper case)
    • Martin v. State, 364 Md. 692 (2001) (police officer’s conviction reversed)
    • Jackson v. State, 364 Md. 192 (2001)
    • Snyder v. State, 361 Md. 580 (2000) (murder conviction reversed)
    • Jackson v. State, 358 Md. 259 (2000) (child abuse conviction reversed)
    • Kelly v. State, 392 Md. 511 (2006) (attempted murder conviction reversed)
    • Biglari v. State, 156 Md.App. 657 (2004) (murder conviction reversed)
    • State v. Taylor, 371 Md. 617 (2002) (double jeopardy reversal)
    • Kilmon v. State, 394 Md. 168 (2005) (reckless endangerment conviction reversed)
    • Smith v. State, 367 Md. 348 (2001) (burglary conviction reversed)
    • Hayes v. State, 355 Md. 615 (1999) (robbery conviction reversed)
    • Dupree v. State, 352 Md. 314 (1998) (murder conviction reversed)
    • Sheppard v. State, 344 Md. 143 (1996)
  • United States Court of Appeals for 4th Circuit cases
    • U.S. v. Williams, 170 F.3d 432 (1999)
    • Smith v. Cromer, 159 F.3d 875 (1998)
  • United States Supreme Court cases
    • Maryland v. Pringle, 540 U.S. 366 (2003)
    • Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990)
    • Gray v. Maryland, 523 U.S. 185 (1998)

In October of 2010, new laws went into effect in Maryland requiring retroactive application of sex offender registration for numerous defendants. Ms. Forster has become an expert in dealing with and fighting against these registry requirements. She is currently challenging the constitutionality of these laws in both of Maryland’s appellate courts hoping to strike down their retroactive application.

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You have the right to more than just an attorney — you have the right to the best legal counsel possible. If you are facing criminal charges in Montgomery County, Maryland or Washington, D.C., The Law Offices of Rebecca A. Nitkin, P.C. in Rockville stands ready to fight for you. Call us at 301-251-8686 or contact us online.

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