Attorney & Staff Profiles
Attorney Profile: Mark Raymond McDonald
MARK RAYMOND McDONALD is a sole practitioner in Laguna Hills, California serving Irvine and all
parts of Orange County. A 1990 graduate of Duke University and the McGeorge
School of Law, he began his legal career working for the Riverside County
District Attorney's office as a trial prosecutor. After having completed
all of the criminal trial assignments, Mr. McDonald joined the "Special
Prosecutions" unit in downtown Riverside. The Special Prosecutions
unit is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting all white collar
offenses, both at the State and Federal level.
Mr. McDonald's assignments within the unit were to investigate and,
if warranted, prosecute crimes involving large scale fraud, political
corruption, and organized crime. On a specialized basis, he also handled
cases involving environmental offenses, insurance and consumer fraud,
securities fraud, corporate criminal liability offenses (workplace deaths),
counterfeiting, and so on. All cases within Special Prosecutions are handled
by an individual attorney from their initial investigation through trial
In January of 1997, after three years in the Special Prosecutions unit,
Mr. McDonald opened his private practice on Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino.
Mr. McDonald's practice is an Exclusive Criminal Defense Practice
and he has assembled an impressive record of trial victories on cases
ranging from special circumstances murders to DUI and simple assault charges.
Mark McDonald has tried 26 murder cases to juries, including capital cases.
He has tried more than 250 criminal cases to juries, with a very high
success rate. Mr. McDonald is well respected by the courts and prosecutors
of Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties. He is known for being
an aggressive trial lawyer, but honest. Because of the respect he has
earned in the courts, Mr. McDonald is often able to get cases entirely
dismissed by explaining to the prosecutor why the prosecution should not proceed.
Duke University, B.A., 1985
- Political Science, English, and Psychology
Duke University & McGeorge School of Law, J.D., 1990
- with Great Distinction
- Law Review: Pacific Law Journal, Board of Editors 1988-89
- "Prosecutor of the Year" 1993, 1994
- State lecturer in White Collar Crimes, 1995
- Traynor Academic Society, Stauffer Research Fellowship
Prejudicial Joinder Under California Penal Code Section 954: Judicial Economy
at a Premium, 20 Pac"
L.J. 1285 (1989). (Article cited by West Publishing Company as authority interpreting California
Penal Code Section 954)
Literary Rights Fee Agreements: Letting the Rabbit Guard the Carrot Patch
of Sixth Amendment Rights and Attorney Ethics"
24 Loyola Law Review 365 (1991) (Article cited as authority by the United States Fifth Circuit Court of
Appeals in Texas in 1994)
Mr. McDonald has argued cases before the court of appeal, and had a case
reversed in the California Supreme Court. These cases resulted in "published
opinions." Courts publish opinions when the issue in the case is
so important that becomes law for future cases to rely upon. Below are
the case citations of some of these cases.
People v Cuccia
(2002), 97 Cal. App. 4th 785, 118 Cal. Rptr. 2d 668
Mr. McDonald had a case reversed after the court of appeal agreed that
the judge had bullied the defense during a securities fraud trial in Orange
County. The trial judge interfered in the defense attorney's ability
to present a defense for his client, and the court of appeal ended up
throwing out the conviction. This case has been cited many times since
the appeal in situations where trial judges have overstepped their authority.
In Re Michael I ,
on Habeas Corpus
(1998) 63 Cal. App. 4th 462, 73 Cal. Rptr. 2d 650
A juvenile housed at the California Youth Authority was denied his right
to prepare for a parole hearing, because the staff at the Youth Authority
kept Mr. McDonald from having assess to his client's file. The court
of Appeal granted a writ by Mr. McDonald, and ordered the Youth Authority
to turn over the records and provide a new hearing. The court applauded
Mr. McDonald's "
Herculean Efforts" in trying to represent his client, Michael I.
In Re Vargas:
The California Supreme Court (en banc) in this case agreed with Mr. McDonald,
in a 9-0 vote, that his client's guilty plea in the trial court was
possibly the result of an undisclosed "package deal." between
the prosecutor and the co-defendant. The Supreme Court sent the case back
to the trial court for a full evidentiary hearing to examine the possibility
of a coerced guilty plea.
Law Offices of Mark Raymond McDonald, Attorney at Law
An Exclusive Criminal Defense Practice, November 1996 - Present
A private practice specializing in Criminal Defense. His current clientele
include public officials, homicide defendants on private retainer, suspected
major narcotics traffickers, juveniles, three strikers, sexual assault,
insider trading and securities fraud, general felony and misdemeanor cases, DIU.
Riverside County District Attorney, Deputy District Attorney
Trial and Appellate Attorney, 1990 - 1996
During eight years as a prosecutor, Mr. McDonald worked as a trial attorney
in all types of cases: Sex Crimes, Homicide, Gangs, Career Criminal, Juvenile,
Domestic Violence and White Collar. He wrote and argued his own appeals
before the Court of Appeal out of choice. While a DA, he conducted over
60 jury trials, involving complex mental defenses, DNA, infant deaths,"
"Battered Wife Syndrome," Racketeering, Bribery, and Securities
and Real Estate Fraud. As a result of being a prosecutor for a number
of years, he is familiar with the prosecutors throughout Southern California
and the state's forensic experts and judges.
Associate Professor and Law Instructor, Chapman University, Orange 1992-1996.
Taught Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Legal Research & Writing
and Business Law on an adjunct basis.
Managing Paralegal: Denise Anne Scelsi
Denise Scelsi was born in Kingston, Jamaica, she moved to the United States
in 1969. After graduating from Granada High School, she attended Junior
College receiving an AA Degree in General Education. She discovered her
love for the legal field when she took Business Law. Denise immediately
realized that an education in the legal field would challenge her while
opening many doors for a promising future.
Denise attended Chapman University, taking many classes in Paralegal Studies
before transferring to California State University of San Bernardino.
She successfully completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at CSUSB in Criminal
Justice and also obtained a Paralegal Certificate.
Denise began her working legal career in 1983 while working for a Sole
Practioner in Woodland Hills, California, she then moved to the Palm Springs
area where she expanded her legal knowledge by working for a bankruptcy
attorney for over seven years.
In 1993 Denise went to work for a family law attorney and stayed at that
firm for two years before joining forces with the Law Offices of Mark
Raymond McDonald. In her free time, Denise is a volunteer for the Riverside
Superior Courts where she acts as a mediator for small claim litigants.
Denise is an instructor at a local paralegal college and touched the lives
of many individuals within the legal community.
Now , Denise is in charge of overseeing the daily operations of the firm,
immediate problem solving and any emergency's that may occur within
the jail system or with clients and their family She has over 25 years
experience in the legal field, coupled with her educational has made her
an extraordinary valuable member of the office.
Denise is a Member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations,
Inc. and The National Notary Association