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Nina McDonnell has spent her career working in criminal and civil appellate law, as well as post-conviction practice. In addition to working directly for clients in an appeal or post-conviction case, Nina provides embedded appellate services in trials, case consultation, issue consultation, and legal research and writing services to attorneys and law firms.

Before founding McDonnell Appeals, Nina was an assistant public defender where she practiced criminal and civil law in the Appellate and Post-Conviction unit of the Missouri State Public Defender. Nina's dedication to indigent clients continues as she serves as a special public defender for MSPD in conflict cases.

As an appellate attorney, Nina has argued before the Supreme Court of Missouri three times on cases involving constitutional and statutory interpretation. Those cases resulted in landmark decisions involving issues such as the Confrontation Clauses of the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions, as well as the Double Jeopardy Clause. 

In her post-conviction practice, Nina has taken hundreds of years of her clients' prison sentences back from the State. In one case, Nina negotiated her client's prison sentence from 110 years to 20 years after demonstrating her client received ineffective assistance of counsel. In another, Nina walked an innocent man out of prison after proving he received ineffective assistance of counsel from his two trial attorneys and one appellate attorney.

Nina has worked on juvenile cases as a certification specialist, working to keep children from being charged as adults. 

And when cases don't go her clients' way, Nina doesn't hesitate to appeal to a higher court, including the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Nina has written numerous briefs to SCOTUS, as well as petitions for certiorari.

As an adjunct assistant professor at Saint Louis University School of Law, Nina taught Legal Analysis, Research, and Communications (formerly known as Legal Research and Writing). Nina also taught a seminar on Advanced Topics in the Criminal Justice System. She has also presented at conferences on issues such as the right to confrontation.

Whether you have a criminal or civil appeal, a post-conviction case, or you are an attorney or firm needing an appellate attorney, Nina is committed to providing outstanding, zealous appellate advocacy. Click here to contact us. We look forward to providing you or your loved ones top-notch, zealous appellate and post-conviction advocacy.


Saint Louis University School of Law1843 Scholar

Saint Louis University, BA Psychology, Honors, summa cum laude

St. Louis Community College, AA Communications, with honors

Notable Cases:

State v. Knox, 604 S.W.3d 316 (Mo. banc 2020)

State v. Smith, 636 S.W.3d 576 (Mo. banc 2022)

State v. Onyejiaka, 671 S.W.3d 796 (Mo. banc 2023) (cert petition)

Gray v. State, Cause No. 20SK-CC00047

Schelsky v. State, Cause No. 20SF-CC00102


Missouri Bar

Supreme Court of the United States Bar


National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Association of Public Defenders


The Confrontation Clause, 2023

Confrontation: No Sick Days for the Constitution, 2024

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