Meet Our Attorneys
At the Law Offices of Michael L. Brown, Jr., we’re dedicated to providing the best possible legal services to clients throughout South Carolina. Criminal attorneys Michael Brown and Zach Merritt specialize in criminal defense but also have many other areas of practice. Our law firm looks forward to helping you navigate the court system while fighting for the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Michael Brown was born in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina in 1958 and grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He has spent his professional career living and working in the York County area.
He graduated from Presbyterian College in 1980 with a Bachelor’s Degree in history. He then received his law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1983.
From 1980 to 1992, Mr. Brown served in the South Carolina National Guard. During that time, he commanded the 218th signal attachment, served as Aide de Camp to both Brigadier General John M. Hilliard and Brigadier General Addison, and commanded B Company of the 151 Signal Battalion. He also served as a Communications and Electronics Officer for the 3rd /178th Field artillery battalion stationed in Lancaster, South Carolina.
This service to our country only complements Mr. Brown’s distinguished legal career. He began practicing law at the Law Offices of Melvin Roberts in October 1983. After going to work at the Law Office of Samuel B. Fuel, Jr. in 1984, he was made partner in 1988. The firm then became known as Fuel, Brown, and Godbold. In 1991, Mr. Brown authored the custody law section of divorce in South Carolina Jurisprudence. In that same year, he established the firm of Gatlin, Brown, and Godbold. Then in 1993, Mr. Brown established the Law Offices of Michael L. Brown, Jr.
In his 34 years of practice, Mr. Brown has dedicated a substantial portion of his practice to defending the rights of individuals accused of crimes in the York County area, including several murder cases, high profile cases, and thousands of DUI cases. He has litigated and won cases at each court level in South Carolina and the United States with the exception of the United States Supreme Court. He has successfully won in municipal court, magistrate court, General Sessions, the Court of Common Pleas, South Carolina Administrative Law Court, the South Carolina Appellate Court, the South Carolina Supreme Court, federal district court, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mr. Brown has successfully defended three death penalty cases and served as the post-conviction relief attorney on another. In the three cases that Mr. Brown defended at the trial level, he kept his clients off death row. In the Wardell Patterson case, Mr. Brown was associated with David Brooks, a world-renowned death penalty expert.
In addition, Michael L. Brown, Jr. has over 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense Litigation. He has won several trials and has successfully argued cases in the following courts: Michael L. Brown, Jr. has over 35 years of experience in Criminal Defense Litigation. He has won several trials and has successfully argued cases in the following courts:
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Federal District Court
- South Carolina Supreme Court
- South Carolina Appellate Court
- South Carolina Administrative Law Court
- South Carolina Court of Common Pleas
- South Carolina Circuit Court (General Sessions)
- Magistrate Level Courts
- Municipal Level Courts
Zach Merritt grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and graduated from Richland Northeast High School in 2003. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English, Cognate in History from the University of South Carolina in 2009. He then received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2013. He is admitted to practice in South Carolina Court and in the Federal District Court of South Carolina.
From an early age, Mr. Merritt was fascinated with trial advocacy and the unique blend of skills required to try a case. In law school, he focused on legal writing and research and both trial and appellate advocacy.
While in law school, he became interested in the criminal justice systems and the manner in which our society punishes people accused of crimes. It became clear that the current system is both a tremendous waste of taxpayer money and often produces unfair results.
During law school, he authored the South Carolina Juvenile Collateral Consequences Checklist, a publication devoted to informing families of the specific effects that a conviction in juvenile court has on a child’s basic rights and liberties throughout the course of his or her life. Mr. Merritt received funding from the South Carolina Supreme Court and other entities to pursue a statewide campaign informing the families and the professionals that work with children on a daily basis on this important area of the law.
He also became fascinated with the unique bundle of constitutional protections afforded to United States citizens accused of crimes, particularly those rights associated with the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights. He clerked with the South Carolina Commission of Appellate Defense and aided in the drafting of multiple appellate and amicus briefs in cases before the United States Supreme Court and the South Carolina Supreme Court.
From 2013 to 2015, Mr. Merritt worked as a legal and policy analyst for the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense, the state agency overseeing the system for appointing lawyers for indigent people around the state. He also worked on a daily basis with Executive Director Patton Adams, former mayor of Columbia, on the various complex legal and financial issues facing the agency. At the same time, he helped achieve a state budget that bolstered funding for public defenders around the state. This was accomplished by educating the Legislature that a strong defense for people accused of crimes is critical to the integrity of South Carolina’s court system and ensures that taxpayer money is not squandered on needlessly incarcerating people. He also designed a statewide training program for all incoming public defenders in the state focused on criminal defense litigation. Additionally, he developed a report with state and national experts on the wide range of issues arising in criminal defense litigation, such as mental health issues and challenging DNA evidence in court.
In 2015 and 2016, Mr. Merritt left the world of policy to gain real experience trying cases in the 16th Circuit Public Defender Office. Like many young lawyers throughout the state, he chose the York County Public Defender office due to its reputation as a gladiator training camp for trial attorneys. While there, he tried over 20 cases over the course of a year and a half with numerous victories at the trial and appellate level.
In 2016, Mr. Merritt was hired by Michael Brown as an associate attorney. He relishes the unique opportunity to work as an apprentice with one of the State’s most experienced criminal attorneys on a variety of high profile and complex cases.
Contact our office at (803) 328-8822 to discuss your case or to learn more about working with either of our attorneys.
Colin Okoye is an Associate in the firm focusing his practice on the areas of criminal defense, family law, and immigration law.
Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Colin graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2009.
While at N.C. A&T, Colin was an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, serving in leadership roles as the organization’s President and the Area Assistant Director amongst the local colleges and universities. Colin also served on the Student Senate while at N.C. A&T. During Colin’s junior year, he interned for the late Vernon Malone in the State Senate of the North Carolina General Assembly.
In 2014, Colin graduated from Charlotte School of Law where he was a member of the Intellectual Property Law Society and where he also served on the Academic Disciplinary Team for two years. During law school, Colin worked for two years as an intern at the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, a Community Development Financial Institution serving all of North Carolina by helping entrepreneurs build and expand their businesses.
After earning his law degree, Colin worked for two and a half years as a Senior Analyst in the Domestic Equities Trading Division for Deutsche Bank, a top investment bank based in Germany. While at Deutsche Bank, Colin also went on to work as a Compliance Associate. Colin furthered his experience by working for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a securities regulation organization in their Los Angeles region. He then worked for the Public Defender’s Office for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit in York, South Carolina. While an Assistant Public Defender, he represented hundreds of clients in a variety of criminal cases.
Colin is a member of the South Carolina, York County and Maryland Bar Association.
In his leisure time, Colin enjoys playing tennis, reading and traveling. He is a loyal Tarheels fan.