Danielle Spinelli

Danielle Spinelli is an experienced litigator and appellate advocate whose practice focuses on representing clients in the US Supreme Court, in the federal and state appellate courts, and in trial-level matters involving complex legal questions. She has handled matters in a wide variety of substantive areas, including administrative law, bankruptcy, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, federal jurisdiction, Native American law, insurance law and international trade.

Ms. Spinelli has substantial experience and expertise in disputes and appeals raising complex bankruptcy problems in both the business and consumer arenas. For example, she successfully argued before the Supreme Court for the chapter 7 trustee in Clark v. Rameker (2014), presenting the question whether inherited IRAs are exempt in bankruptcy. Also in the Supreme Court, she played a major role in the successful representation of the Marshall estate in Stern v. Marshall (2011), a watershed decision on Article III and bankruptcy court authority. She currently represents a leading financial institution in appeals across the country involving unsettled questions of consumer bankruptcy law. She has represented Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. in a series of appeals involving novel questions at the intersection of chapter 11 and insurance law, including prevailing before the en banc Third Circuit on the question of insurer standing and successfully arguing before the Third Circuit that the chapter 11 case of an entity with no assets other than insurance should be dismissed. She has also argued successfully before the Second and Third Circuits in appeals stemming from the Chrysler and eToys bankruptcies.

Ms. Spinelli also has substantial experience representing Native American tribes in complex litigation, appeals, and administrative proceedings involving land into trust, gaming, jurisdictional and sovereign immunity issues. She argued before the Supreme Court in United States v. Tohono O'odham Nation (2011), involving jurisdiction over tribal breach of trust claims. Separately, she has represented the Nation in a series of lawsuits and appeals involving land into trust and gaming issues, including successfully invalidating an Arizona state statute on preemption grounds and successfully obtaining summary judgment in a contract suit brought against the Nation. She also represents several other tribes in proceedings related to land into trust and gaming issues.

In addition, Ms. Spinelli argued successfully in the Supreme Court in the right-to-counsel case of Rothgery v. Gillespie County (2008). She played a lead role in the successful representation of Freddie Lee Hall in Hall v. Florida (2014), regarding the constitutionality of Florida’s scheme for determining whether capital defendants have an intellectual disability that would bar their execution. She also played a major role in the successful representation of Chris Simmons in Roper v. Simmons (2005), which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders, and represented the American Psychological Association as amicus in the subsequent cases of Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012), which limited life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders. She has also represented parties or amici in numerous other Supreme Court cases.

Ms. Spinelli was recently recognized as a Supreme Court and appellate practitioner by The Legal 500, which said that she "has superb legal acumen, is a very effective oral advocate, and provides an excellent written product" and is "a great lawyer in every sense."

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Bankruptcy Litigation, 2) Regulation and Policy, 3) Government and Regulatory Litigation and 4) Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation
Law School Harvard Law School, J.D.,1999
Education Columbia University, M.A. ;Mary Baldwin College, B.A.
Bar Member / Association District of Columbia Bar Association, Massachusetts State Bar Association, New York State Bar Association
Most recent firm WilmerHale
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