Attorney & Staff Profiles
Attorney Profile: Mark Raymond McDonald
MARK RAYMOND McDONALD is a sole practitioner in San Bernardino, California serving all parts of Orange County, Riverside, and San Bernardino 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 and sentencing.
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 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.
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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.
EXPERIENCE & MEMBERSHIPS
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