Debra McGuire Mercer

Debra McGuire Mercer

Of Counsel

Debra McGuire Mercer focuses her practice on communications regulation, and judicial and administrative litigation. She has practiced extensively before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state public utility commissions and trial and appellate courts. Debra's litigation experience encompasses civil, criminal and regulatory issues related to telecommunications, government contracts, international trade and commercial disputes. Debra’s regulatory experience includes counseling companies on regulatory and licensing issues arising in business, contract and transactional matters. Her experience spans all types of communications media, including broadcast, cable, Internet, satellite, telecommunications, and wireless.

Concentrations
  • Communications
    • The Communications Act and the Telecommunications Act of 1996
    • Broadcast licensing and regulation
    • Cable television franchises
    • Cable television regulation, including mandatory carriage, retransmission consent agreements, closed captioning, the CALM Act, children’s programming, and program access
    • Commercial transactions involving broadcast, cable, media, and telecommunications companies
    • Eligible Telecommunications Carriers – Designation and compliance
    • FCC and state approval of assignment and transfer of control of licenses, including broadcast, satellite, and wireless licenses and domestic and international Section 214 authorizations
    • FCC and state enforcement proceedings, including inquiries and investigations
    • FCC and state rulemaking proceedings
    • FCC equipment authorizations and labeling requirements for radio frequency devices
    • Internet telephony/Voice over IP
    • Licensing and regulation of international telecommunications and information services
    • Licensing and regulation of wireline and wireless telecommunications carriers by the FCC and state public utility commissions
    • Licensing and regulation of submarine cables by foreign agencies, the FCC, and state regulatory agencies
    • Lifeline program and Lifeline Broadband Pilot Program
    • Political broadcasting
    • Satellite licensing and regulation
    • State law compliance for telecommunications carriers regarding surcharges and taxes, state Universal Service Funds, and 911 funds
    • Telecommunications service agreements
    • Telecommunications fees, surcharges and taxes
    • Telemarketing and unsolicited faxes
    • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Junk Fax Protection Act, and Do Not Call laws
    • Federal and State Universal Service Funds
    • Universal Service Administrative Company audits
  • Government Contracts
    • Administrative litigation challenging contract awards
    • Antitrust
    • Bid protests
    • Claims preparation
    • Codes of conduct
    • Due diligence for investments and transactions
    • Ethics and compliance plans
    • Litigation before U.S. Court of Federal Claims
    • Voluntary disclosures
  • Litigation
    • Administrative litigation before the FCC and state public utility commissions
    • Commercial litigation regarding contractual and service disputes between telecommunications carriers
    • Civil litigation concerning government contracts
    • Criminal litigation regarding international trade and antitrust issues
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Capabilities

Experience

  • Represented largest U.S. wireless telecommunications reseller before the FCC and state public utility commissions in proceedings seeking designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier to provide Lifeline service; obtained designation in over 40 states.
  • Represented a major competitive local exchange carrier before federal, state and state public utility commissions, in its acquisition of the assets of another carrier pursuant to a bankruptcy court sale order.
  • Represented telecommunications reseller in federal court litigation involving breach of contract and tortious interference with business claims. Drafted briefs arguing that arbitration clause in service agreement was not applicable; district court decision was affirmed by appellate court on interlocutory review.
  • Represented a major cable company in a contested proceeding before a FCC administrative law judge concerning a competitor's qualifications to hold microwave licenses for the transmission of video programming in the New York City market. The FCC affirmed the Administrative Law Judge's decision.
  • Drafted U.S. Supreme Court petition for a writ of certiorari to the Eighth Circuit for a trade association representing companies operating local telecommunications networks in AT&T et al. v. Iowa Utilities Board. The petition focused on the FCC's authority to regulate the pricing of access to local telecommunications networks under provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
  • Acted as primary counsel defending challenge to cellular telephone service provider's major account pricing plan.
  • Counsel to McDonnell Douglas Corporation for the "A-12 litigation," a multibillion-dollar matter regarding the largest contract termination claim filed against the government.
  • Co-chaired trial before ALJ challenging award of government contract regarding category management services.
  • Drafted code of conduct for government contractor charged with criminal violations of antitrust laws; drafted ethics and compliance plan for government contractor focused on international trade and transportation regulations. 

Recognition & Leadership

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Member, Federal Communications Bar Association

Credentials

Education
  • J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 1992
  • B.S.B.A., Finance and International Management, magna cum laude, Georgetown University, 1989
Clerkships
  • Hon. Kenneth R. Harkins, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, 1992-1993
Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims