Zachary Merliss

FelonyDUI and Drug Crimes

We call him “The Hangman” because he’s hung so many juries. Rapidly becoming one of the Cohen Defense Group’s most experienced trial attorneys, Zachary Merliss is a fierce litigator. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers Magazine as a Northern California Rising Star in the field of DUI defense, chosen by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in California for criminal defense, and selected as a Sacramento Magazine “Top Lawyer”. 

Zach’s litigation talents are particularly well-suited to fighting DUI and drug charges. An active member of the National College for DUI Defense, Zach hones his skills by undergoing the same training programs that qualify police officers for DUI investigation:  he successfully completed the 3-day “Standardized Field Sobriety Test Academy” and the 2-day “Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Training” designed for experienced police officers. He also attended a 6-day “Serious Science” seminar where he personally prepared blood alcohol samples in a lab.  Going the extra mile to get this kind of training gives Zach the upper hand when it comes to cross examining prosecution witnesses and dismantling the DA’s case against his client.  Zach seeks out special training because, as he says, “Everyone deserves protection under the constitution, but you need a skilled advocate to invoke those protections. California has been passing more favorable laws for DUI and drug cases and I’m happy to be able to use those laws for my clients’ benefit.”

Passionate about protecting his clients’ 4th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, Zach has put in the work to become intimately familiar with 4th Amendment law so that he can effectively evaluate every search, seizure, and warrant to determine if it was unreasonable. Zach knows the legal protections that extend from 4th Amendment cases, and he uses those protections to defend his clients.  According to founding partner David Cohen, “Zach is a bulldog. He is making the prosecutors work overtime by challenging every potential act of police misconduct. That kind of zeal reaps great results for our clients.”

Zach received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his law degree from USC. Before joining the Cohen Defense team, he was a legal fellow with the Federal Public Defender in Las Vegas and an advocate for workers and the disabled at Service Employees International Union and Disability Rights California. When he isn’t practicing law, Zach plays bass in a local rock band and enjoys hiking, tennis, and improv.

Born in Chico and raised in South Lake Tahoe, Zach became a member of the state bar in 2016. Education: UCLA, Los Angeles, CA (B.A. Political Science, Minor in Film, Television & Digital Media 2012); University of Southern California School of Law, Los Angeles, CA (J.D., 2016). Member: Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Placer County Bar Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, California DUI Lawyers, National College for DUI Defense.

Sacramento Magazine 2021 Top Lawyers
Zachary Merliss
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