Danielle Spinelli is a partner in the firm's Litigation/Controversy Department, and a member of the Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation, Government and Regulatory Litigation and Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights Litigation Practice Groups. She joined WilmerHale in 2002.
Ms. Spinelli’s practice focuses on representation of parties and amici 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 constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, administrative law, federal jurisdiction, Indian law, insurance law and international trade. In addition, Ms. Spinelli has substantial experience and expertise in disputes raising complex bankruptcy problems, and has handled many matters involving novel questions of bankruptcy law. She also has substantial experience representing governmental entities and litigating both against and alongside the United States. She has argued successfully before the US Supreme Court and federal and state courts of appeals.
- Successfully argued before the Court on behalf of petitioner in Rothgery v. Gillespie County, Texas (2008), a case presenting an important question regarding the scope of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
- Argued before the Court for respondent in United States v. Tohono O’odham Nation (2011), which presented a significant question of federal jurisdiction.
- Played a major role in the successful representation of the estate of E. Pierce Marshall against the estate of Vickie Lynn Marshall, a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith, in Stern v. Marshall (2011), a highly significant decision on the scope of Article III and the limits of bankruptcy court jurisdiction.
- Authored an amicus brief on behalf of the Loan Syndications and Trading Association in RadLAX Gateway Hotel v. Amalgamated Bank (pending), which raises an important issue regarding the availability of credit-bidding to secured creditors in sales under Chapter 11 plans.
- Represented parties or amici in a number of other recent Supreme Court bankruptcy cases, including Schwab v. Reilly (2010); Marrama v. Citizens Bank (2007); and Marshall v. Marshall (2006).
- Primary author of the firm’s brief for respondent in Roper v. Simmons (2005), in which the Court overruled its own prior contrary precedent and held that the execution of offenders who committed their crimes as juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
- Authored amicus briefs on behalf of the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association in Graham v. Florida (2010), and Miller v. Alabama/Jackson v. Hobbs (pending). The Graham brief was cited in the Court’s decision holding that juveniles could not constitutionally be sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide crimes.
- Played a major role in the firm’s representation of the sponsors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007), defending the constitutionality of BCRA’s electioneering communication provisions.
- Authored amicus briefs in support of the prevailing parties in Smith v. Texas (2007) (capital punishment); and Gonzales v. Oregon (2006) (validity of regulations purporting to forbid use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide).
- Plays a lead role in the firm’s representation of Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries in many asbestos-related bankruptcy proceedings and appeals, including:
- Prevailing before the en banc Third Circuit on an important issue of insurer standing in bankruptcy in In re Global Industrial Technologies, Inc. (2011).
- Arguing before the Third Circuit in In re American Capital Equipment (pending), regarding the validity of a Chapter 11 plan filed by a defunct entity with no meaningful assets other than insurance.
- Arguing before the Third Circuit in In re Federal-Mogul Global, Inc. (pending), which raises an important and complex issue of bankruptcy preemption.
- Playing a major role in developing overall strategy and briefing complex legal issues, often of first impression, in the Combustion Engineering, Western Asbestos, Mid-Valley, North American Refractory Co. and other bankruptcies and resulting appeals.
- Played a major role in the firm's representation of the Government of Canada in its multibillion-dollar dispute with the United States over duties on imported softwood lumber, and in litigation raising related issues, including:
- Successfully arguing before the Federal Circuit in Canadian Wheat Board v. United States (2011), which resolved a significant and recurring question regarding the interpretation of the NAFTA Implementation Act in favor of Canada.
- Obtaining a victory in unusual proceedings before an Extraordinary Challenge Committee convened under NAFTA.
- Defending against a novel constitutional challenge to the dispute-resolution provisions of NAFTA in the DC Circuit.
- Represents the Tohono O’odham Nation, an Arizona tribe, in complex litigation arising from the Department of the Interior’s obligation to take land into trust for the Nation, including successfully arguing before the US District Court for the District of Arizona that an Arizona statute seeking to prevent the trust acquisition was preempted by federal law, and successfully defending Interior’s decision to take the land into trust against an APA challenge.
- Successfully argued before the Third Circuit on behalf of client AOL in a fraudulent-transfer dispute with the estate of bankrupt internet retailer eToys.
- Represents swap counterparties in disputes with the Lehman bankruptcy estate involving interpretation of the Bankruptcy Code’s provisions governing complex financial products, and has filed amicus briefs on behalf of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association addressing related issues.
- Played a lead role in the firm’s important victory in United States v. Stein (2008), in which the Second Circuit upheld the dismissal, on Fifth and Sixth Amendment grounds, of the indictments in the tax-fraud prosecution of thirteen former partners or employees of the accounting firm KPMG.
- Represented Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Washington in a Second Circuit appeal and an array of related proceedings stemming from a dispute with the Enron bankruptcy estate that raised novel and complex questions at the intersection of administrative law and bankruptcy jurisdiction.
- Played a key role in the firm's victory in the Connecticut Supreme Court on behalf of a major insurance company in a complex and high-stakes reinsurance dispute.
- For five years, represented Virginia death-row client Darick Walker, arguing his case three times before the Fourth Circuit, including prevailing in the Fourth Circuit on the question whether Walker’s Brady claim was procedurally defaulted.
Honors, Awards and Press
- National Law Journal's Appellate Lawyer of the Week (November 2010)
- Named a future star in DC litigation by Benchmark Litigation (2010 and 2011) for "play[ing] a major role as one of the [firm's] younger Supreme Court practitioners"
- WilmerHale’s 2006 John H. Pickering Award for outstanding pro bono service
- National Law Journal’s 2005 Pro Bono Award for work on Roper v. Simmons
- 2005 Outstanding Legal Service Award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for work on Roper v. Simmons
- Amicus brief in support of certiorari in Smith v. Texas was one of two briefs honored as instances of Exemplary Legal Writing for 2006 by Green Bag
- Amicus brief in Marrama v. Citizens Bank received 2007 Pro Bono Award from National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation
Government and Regulatory Litigation
Bankruptcy and Creditor Rights Litigation
|District of Columbia|
|Harvard Law School,
Honors: magna cum laudeColumbia University
MAMary Baldwin College
Honors: magna cum laude
|For Whose Benefit? Courts in Adelphia and eToys Bankruptcies Decline to Unwind Transactions Where Suits Do Not Serve Goal of Creditor Protection, 2010|
|Hartford Fire Insurance Co. and Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. |
WilmerHale Secures Victory for KPMG Employees in High-Profile Case
(US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit)
WilmerHale Wins Victory for Pro Bono Client in US Supreme Court
(US Supreme Court)
|Bankruptcy Litigation, Class Actions, Complex Litigation, Federal Appellate Practice, Federal Claims Court, Federal Trial Practice, International Trade Litigation, Litigation & Appeals, Multidistrict Litigation, Patent Litigation, State Appellate Practice, State Trial Practice, Tax Litigation, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, US Supreme Court|
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