Donnie is an experienced appellate advocate, litigator, and advisor. Leveraging his experience as a former public-sector general counsel and in-house litigation chief, he brings a practical, solutions-oriented approach to clients’ most pressing challenges.
In the courtroom, he has experience at all levels of the federal and Indiana judicial systems—including work on appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Indiana Supreme Court. He has served as lead counsel for parties or amici in dozens of appeals and served as the principal briefing author in several more. He has also maintained an active trial-court practice focused on issues presenting important legal or policy implications.
As an advisor, Donnie has a deep understanding of the distinct challenges facing public-sector clients, individuals, and businesses. Before joining Taft, he served in Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration as corporation counsel and chief litigation counsel for the City of Indianapolis and Marion County. In those roles, he gained significant experience advising elected officials, fellow cabinet-level appointees, agencies, boards, and commissions on issues ranging from economic development and TIF policy to pandemic response and police reform. Before his time in public service, he was an appellate advocate and business litigator representing global and local clients at an AmLaw 100 firm.
His primary areas of substantive focus include:
- Federal constitutional issues, including those arising under the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the standing, ripeness, and mootness doctrines arising under Article III.
- Questions arising under the Indiana constitution.
- Questions of statutory interpretation arising under federal and state law.
- Issues facing governmental clients and public universities.
- Issues facing legislative bodies and public boards.
- Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) and Open-Door Law.
- Disaster emergency laws and pandemic response.
- Police reform.
- Advising prospective NIL collectives on legal and compliance issues.
- Contract and quasi-contract claims.
- Advising public-sector clients on economic-development projects and redevelopment law.
Donnie is a graduate of Indiana University with highest distinction and an Order of the Coif graduate of Berkeley Law School. As a law student, he served as a judicial extern for Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and later for Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. As an undergraduate, he served as an in-chambers intern for Judge Gregory A. Smith on the Daviess Circuit Court.
Taft Pro Bono Honor Roll Award
(2022 – present)
Honoree, Indiana Super Lawyers Rising Stars, Appellate
Honoree, Leadership in Law – Up and Coming Lawyer, Indiana Lawyer (2021)
Graduate, Indianapolis Bar Association Bar Leader Series XIII
Distinguished Fellow, Indianapolis Bar Foundation
All Service Areas
- University of California Berkeley School of Law (2012)
Order of the Coif
- Indiana University (2009)
B.A., Highest Distinction, Political Science and History
- State - Indiana
- Federal - U.S. Supreme Court
- Federal - U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit
- Federal - Northern District of Indiana
- Federal - Southern District of Indiana
Notable Appellate Matters and Original Actions:
- Raylu Enters., Inc. v. City of Noblesville (Ind. Ct. App. 2023). Won affirmance of trial-court judgment construing Indiana’s eminent-domain statute.
- BP2 Construction, LLC v. Board of Zoning Appeals of the City of Seymour (Ind. Ct. App. 2023). Defended municipal zoning board’s denial of variance request that would have permitted heavy industrial use adjacent to residential neighborhood.
- Conroad Assocs., L.P. v. Castleton Corner Owners Ass’n, Inc., et al. (Ind. 2022). Represented Indiana Mortgage Bankers Association as amicus curiae successfully urging Indiana Supreme Court to review decision undermining judgment finality in Indiana.
- GEFT Outdoors, LLC, et al. v. City of Westfield, et al. (7th Cir. 2022). Represented coalition of amici municipalities in appeal addressing First Amendment circuit split having far-reaching implications for municipal sign and billboard regulations.
- Horner, et al. v. Curry, et al. (Ind. 2019). Won affirmance of summary judgment in lawsuit construing Article 8, Section 2 of Indiana’s constitution.
- Doe v. Holcomb, et al. (U.S. 2018). Defeated certiorari petition appearing on multiple national watchlists.
- Heath v. Indianapolis Fire Department (7th Cir. 2018). Won affirmance of summary judgment in False Claims Act retaliation lawsuit.
- Robinett v. City of Indianapolis (7th Cir. 2018). Won affirmance of post-judgment order construing Indiana’s public-employee indemnification statute.
- Doe v. Holcomb, et al. (7th Cir. 2018). Won affirmance of dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1) for want of Article III standing.
- Cox v. City of Evansville, et al. (Ind. 2018). Represented amici successfully urging Supreme Court to reject extension of common-carrier liability to municipal services.
- City of Indianapolis v. West (Ind. Ct. App. 2017). Won reversal of summary-judgment denial in interlocutory appeal addressing respondeat superior liability.
- FLM, LLC v. Metropolitan Development Comm’n (Ind. Ct. App. 2017). Won affirmance of summary-judgment order construing zoning ordinances.
- City of Indianapolis v. Kaler (Ind. Ct. App. 2017). Won reversal of summary-judgment denial in interlocutory appeal applying premises-liability and contributory-negligence tests to athletic activities in public park.
- State ex rel. Staten v. Marion Superior Court, et al. (Ind. 2016). Defeated mandamus petition in original action seeking to compel trial-court order.
- United States v. Lewis (7th Cir 2016). As court-appointed amicus, advanced arguments resulting in government’s confession of error and published opinion addressing permissible sentencing factors.
- Packer v. Trustees of Indiana University (7th Cir. 2015). Won affirmance of summary judgment in decision clarifying Seventh Circuit’s waiver standard.
- Bloomington Police Department v. Stone Belt, Inc. (Ind. Ct. App. 2015). Represented amici in case interpreting Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA).
- Mellouli v. Lynch (U.S. 2015). Worked on pro bono team at certiorari and merits stages of successful deportation appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- McMorris v. American Senior Communities (7th Cir. 2014). Won affirmance of summary judgment in Title VII case.
- American Cold Storage v. City of Boonville (Ind. 2014). Won reversal of decision interpreting Indiana’s annexation remonstrance statute.
Notable Trial-Court Matters:
- GEFT Outdoor, LLC v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County, et al. (S.D. Ind. 2023). Defended First Amendment claims asserted by billboard company seeking to erect digital billboards in Marion County.
- Elmore v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County, et al. (S.D. Ind. 2022). Represented government agencies and a government official in challenge to tree-preservation ordinance under the Takings Clause.
- Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County v. JPC Affordable Housing Foundation, Inc., et al. (Marion Superior 2022). Represented city in lawsuit to hold landlords accountable for collecting utility payments from tenants then failing to pay utility company.
- Nicole K., et al. v. Marion County, et al. (S.D. Ind. 2019). Briefed motion to dismiss for want of Article III standing that led to voluntary dismissal for county client.
- City of Indianapolis v. City of Carmel (Marion Superior 2017). Obtained preliminary injunction in case of first impression construing Indiana’s county-line-road statute.
- GEFT Outdoors, LLC v. Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County, et al. (S.D. Ind. 2017). Negotiated agreed judgment resolving First Amendment sign-code dispute.
- Consolidated City of Indianapolis and Marion County v. United States of America, et al. (S.D. Ind. 2016). Negotiated agreed judgment reinstating county into National Flood Insurance Program.
Speeches and Publications
Speeches and Presentations
- Speaker, “The Disney Debacle: An Exploration of the Legal Facing the Reedy Creek District through an Indiana Lens,” Indianapolis Bar Association, October 17, 2023
- Speaker, “Regulating Political Signs: What You Need to Know,” Aim Webinar, October 11, 2023
- Speaker, “Sign Ordinances and the First Amendment,” AIM Ideas Summit, August 23, 2023
- Speaker, “U.S. Supreme Court Update,” Municipal Law Seminar XXXX, June 23, 2023.
- Speaker, “Hot Topics for In-House Counsel,” IndyBar In-House Counsel Retreat, June 16, 2023.
- Speaker, “Preserving Error for Appeal,” Federal Bar Association, March 2, 2023
- Speaker, “Life After Public Service,” Indianapolis Bar Association, Dec. 13, 2022.
- Speaker, “U.S. Supreme Court Update,” Municipal Law Seminar XXXIX, June 24, 2022.
- Speaker, “Municipal Jeopardy,” Aim Ideas Summit, Oct. 5-7, 2021.
- Speaker, “Federal Case Law Update,” Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association, June 2021.
- Speaker, “State of Indiana and City of Indianapolis Response to COVID-19,” Indianapolis Bar Association, March 2020.
- Speaker, “U.S. Supreme Court Review: October Term 2018,” Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association, June 2019.
- Speaker, “Surviving in a Government Practice,” Indianapolis Bar Association, October 2019.
- Speaker, “Office of Corporation Counsel,” City of Indianapolis Leadership Education and Accelerated Development Program, July 2019 and July 2018.
- Speaker, “Surviving in a Government or In-House Practice,” Indianapolis Bar Association, October 2018, October 2017, and April 2017.
- Speaker, “Who’s Who in the Office of Corporation Counsel,” Indianapolis Bar Association, May 2016.
- Author, “Federal Practice in the Southern District of Indiana,” Indiana Lawyer, August 2023
- Author, “Thinking Hard: A Modest Step on Qualified Immunity,” The Circuit Rider Vol 30, May 2022.
- Author, “Discussing Criminal-Justice Reform with a United States Attorney Turned Mayor,” The Circuit Rider Vol 29, September 2021.
- Co-author, Seventh Circuit Civil Appeals Practice Note: Initiating an Appeal, Practical Law Litigation, December 2015.
- Co-author, Initial Civil Appeals State Q&A: Indiana, Practical Law Litigation, October 2015.
- Co-author, Additional Civil Appeals State Q&A: Indiana, Practical Law Litigation, October 2015.
- Co-author, Appellate Civil Case Law Update, Res Gestae, August 2015.
- Co-author, Appellate Civil Case Law Update, Res Gestae, February 2015.
- Co-author, Seventh Circuit Civil Appeals Practice Note: Initiating an Appeal, Practical Law Litigation, December 2014.
- Co-author, Initial Civil Appeals State Q&A: Indiana, Practical Law Litigation, October 2014.
- Co-author, Additional Civil Appeals State Q&A: Indiana, Practical Law Litigation, October 2014.
- Co-author, Appellate Civil Case Law Update, Res Gestae, September 2010.
- Author, “Supreme Court to Examine Intersection of First Amendment and Social Media,” Taft Law Bulletin, April 27, 2023.
- Author, “Supreme Court Decides Landmark Billboard Case,” Taft Law Bulletin, April 22, 2022.
- Author, “Seventh Circuit Construes Class Action Fairness Act’s “Local Controversy” Exception,” Taft Law Bulletin, March 31, 2022.
- Author, “Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Landmark Billboard Case,” Taft Law Bulletin, June 30, 2021.
- Author, “Seventh Circuit: Forum Analysis Applies to First Amendment’s Freedom of Press Clause,” Taft Law Bulletin, April 28, 2021.
In the course of his public-sector work, Donnie has also regularly presented to legislative bodies, boards, and commissions on issues ranging from economic development and police reform to federal regulatory compliance and government procurement.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Advisory Committee on Circuit Rules
Committee on Pattern Civil Jury Instructions, Section 1983 Subcommittee
- Seventh Circuit Bar Association
Second Vice President
Board of Governors
Indiana Editor of The Circuit Rider
- Indianapolis Bar Association
Vice President (2023)
Board of Directors (2021-2022)
Appellate Practice Section
Bar Leader Series XIII (2015)
- Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association
Board of Directors (2019-2020)
Litigation Committee (2016-2020)
- Indiana State Bar Association
Appellate Practice Section
- Marion County Bar Association
- Indianapolis Bar Foundation
Board of Directors (2019-2020)
Chair, Fellows Committee (2020)
Impact Fund Committee (2013-2019)
- Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee
Board of Directors (2023 – present)
- Indianapolis City-County Ethics Commission
- IPS School 39
Classroom Volunteer (2012-2016)