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W. Scott Donaldson

Mediator | Arbitrator | Trials & Appeals

Attorney Scott Donaldson has the experience necessary to assist attorneys with mediation, arbitration, trials, and appeals.

After graduating from the Cumberland School of Law, attorney Scott Donaldson had an extensive jury and non-jury trial and appellate practice for nearly 20 years, during which time he focused on business disputes, contract and tort litigation, domestic relations and child custody issues, estate disputes, and real estate issues. He also served as outside general counsel for hospitals and hospital medical staff for more than 10 years, where he focused on corporate governance, compliance, bylaws, and medical staff credentialing disputes. Scott also argued before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and all Alabama appellate courts.

In 2003, he was appointed as Circuit Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit and was then elected without opposition in 2004 and again in 2010. As Circuit Judge, he presided over approximately 150 civil and criminal non-jury and jury trials and conducted hundreds of bench trials.

 

In 2013, Scott was appointed to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and was then elected without opposition in November 2014 for a six-year term. As an appellate judge, he was the principal author of over 950 appellate opinions and participated in voting on over 5,000 appellate cases in areas including business, commercial, consumer, construction, tort and contract, health care, government, administrative, family, real property, and estate claims and disputes.

 

While he served as an appellate judge, he was also appointed by the Chief Justice to serve as a specially-appointed Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court when needed. And, in 2018, he was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to Chief Judge of Court of the Judiciary of Alabama, the court adjudicating ethical complaints filed against appellate, circuit, district, probate, and municipal judges in Alabama.

 

In 2021, attorney Scott Donaldson retired from the bench and now has a private practice focusing on mediation, arbitration, trials, and appeals.

Publications


  • Author of over 950 appellate opinions with many published in the Southern Reporter 3rd series. Author of numerous other concurring and dissenting opinions.

  • Author of the Alabama Trial Notebook, published by University of Alabama School of Law (clealabama.com)

  • Evidence Rules and Trial Skills, 82 Ala. Lawyer 18 (2021)

  • Improving Jury Service, 73 Ala. Lawyer 190 (2012), cited in 47 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1105 (2014), 48 Ariz. St. L.J. 481 (2016), New York Practice Series – Commercial Litigation §37:3 (2019)

  • Is it Time for the Plain English Jury Charge? 66 Ala. Lawyer 61 (2005), cited in 68 Ala. Lawyer 369 (2007); 16 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Policy (2006), 81 Notre Dame L. Rev. 449 (2006); 98 Ky. L. J. 355 (2009); The New Wigmore: A Treatise on Evidence §1.11.5 (2018); 6 Am. Jur. Trials 923; 6 Am. Jur. Trials 1043

  • Ex-parte Interviews with Corporate Party Employees, The Alabama Lawyer 312 (Sept 1992), cited in 64 Ala. Law. 226 (2003)




Teaching & Training


  • Faculty member for the National Judicial College teaching four-day evidence courses for trial judges and appellate judges nationwide (included in Masters of Judicial Studies curriculum).

    • Subjects taught: relevance; 403; character & habit; 404(b); record preservation and management; authentication; electronic evidence/social media; expert and lay opinion evidence; child witnesses; computer generated evidence; managing the trial.

    • Evidence in the Courtroom Setting – August 2019, Big Sky, Montana.

    • Advanced Evidence – June 2019, Bar Harbor, Maine.

    • Advanced Evidence – October 2018, Reno, Nevada.

    • Advanced Evidence – March 2018, Monterrey, California.

    • Advanced Evidence – October 2017, Charleston, South Carolina.

    • Evidence in the Courtroom Setting – June 2017, New Orleans, Louisiana.

    • Advanced Evidence – March 2016, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.

    • Evidence in the Courtroom Setting – January 2016, Honolulu, Hawaii.

    • Advanced Evidence – May 2015, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.

    • Evidence in the Courtroom Setting – April 2015, Napa, California.

    • Advanced Evidence – August 2014, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.

    • Evidence in the Courtroom Setting – May 2013, Seattle, Washington.

    • Advanced Evidence – May 2012, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.

    • Advanced Evidence – October 2010, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.

    • Advanced Evidence – August 2009, National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.

  • Evidence courses taught for judicial associations and other organizations:

    • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Conference – National Judicial College Webcast July 2020

  • Educational conference for hearing officers

    • Subjects taught: application of the Federal Rules of Evidence to disciplinary proceedings including relevance and authentication

  • American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Section – Los Angeles, California, May 2018

    • Subject taught: expert evidence

  • U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board Judicial Conference – Washington, D.C., July 2019 and October 2014 (Educational conference for federal Patent Trial and Appeal Board judges)

    • Subjects taught: expert evidence; relevance; authentication; hearsay.

  • North Dakota Judicial Association Conference – Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 2019 and Bismark, North Dakota, April 2018

    • Subjects taught: relevance; 403; hearsay; witness issues; authentication; electronic evidence/social media; courtroom procedures; character evidence; 404(b); impeachment; experts.

  • Vermont Judicial Association Conference – Vergennes, Vermont, May 2017 (Vermont trial and appellate judge conference)

    • Subjects taught: expert and lay opinion evidence

  • Maryland Administrative Law Judge Conference – National Judicial College webcast, February 2016 (Administrative law conference)

    • Subject taught: opinion witnesses in the administrative law setting

  • Oklahoma Judicial Association Conference - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, July 2015 (Oklahoma trial and appellate judges conference)

    • Subjects taught: evidence in family law and child custody cases

  • Nevada Judicial Association Conference - Las Vegas, Nevada, April 2014 (Nevada trial and appellate judges conference)

    • Subjects taught: capital litigation including appointment of counsel; pre-trial motions; ex-parte motions; mental evaluations and competency; appointment of experts; self-representation.

  • Wyoming Judicial Association Conference - Gillette, Wyoming, September 2013 (Wyoming trial and appellate judge conference)

    • Subjects taught: social media evidence; authentication.

  • Colorado Judicial Association Conference - Denver, Colorado, November 2012 (Colorado trial and appellate judge conference)

    • Subjects taught: Crawford and confrontation issues; character and habit; relevance; 403.

  • National Judicial College webcast, May 2012 (For trial and appellate judges nationwide)

    • Subject taught: character and habit evidence

  • California OSHA Administrative Law Judges Conference - Los Angeles, California, January 2012 (Educational conference for California OSHA administrative law judges)

    • Subjects taught: relevance; 403; hearsay; general evidentiary rulings on objections for administrative judges.

  • West Virginia Judicial Association Conference - Wheeling, West Virginia, October 2011 (West Virginia trial and appellate judge conference)

    • Subject taught: expert evidence

  • NJC Death Penalty Conference - Orange Beach, Alabama, September 2008 (Primarily for Alabama trial judges)

    • Subject taught: capital litigation penalty phase jury instructions.

  • Alabama Circuit and District Judges Associations

    • Faculty member of the Alabama Judicial College

    • Evidence presentations at judicial conferences in January 2020; January 2019; July 2018; January 2018; July 2017; January 2017; July 2016; January 2016; January 2015; January 2014; January 2013; July 2012

    • Numerous orientation sessions for new Alabama trial judges

    • Subjects taught: civil procedure; trial procedure; general evidence; expert testimony; impeachment of witnesses; hearsay; character evidence; expert and lay opinion testimony.

  • Alabama Probate Judges Association

    • Evidence presentations at judicial conferences in January 2020; March 2019; January 2019; June 2018; April 2018; January 2018; April 2017; January 2016; April 2016

    • Subjects taught: relevance; hearsay; impeachment of witnesses; general evidence and trial procedures.

  • University of Alabama School of Law (www.law.ua.edu)

    • Adjunct faculty member (2006-present)

    • Courses taught: Trial Advocacy I and II

  • Attended NITA teacher training November 2007

  • University of Alabama College of Commerce & Business Administration (http://culverhouse.ua.edu)

    • Adjunct faculty member (2009–2012)

    • Course taught: Fundamentals of Business Law for undergraduates.

  • University of Alabama College of Nursing

    • Collaboration with nursing faculty in the creation of a risk management tool for nursing students for use in the curriculum.

  • University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences

    • Served on graduate thesis review committees for Department of Psychology.

  • Continuing legal education speaker on various topics for numerous legal/judicial associations and groups regularly since 1988.

    • Sponsoring organizations include CLEAlabama, Alabama State Bar (general meetings and various sections including Family Law, Young Lawyers, Worker’s Compensation), Mobile/Baldwin County Bar Association, Marion/Winston County Bar Associations, Monroe/Conecuh County Bar Associations, Tallapoosa County Bar Association, etc.




Professional & Community Involvement


  • Fellow, Alabama Law Foundation (membership is limited to one percent of state Bar membership)

  • Graduate, Leadership Alabama

  • Commissioner from Alabama, National Uniform Law Commission (www.uniformlawcommission.com 2011-2019)

  • Member, Drafting Committee to Revise or Amend the Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act (2014-2017)

  • Elected to Alabama State Bar Commission (governing body of State Bar, 1998-judicial appointment in 2003)

  • Elected by State Bar Commission to the Disciplinary Commission (four person commission overseeing attorney discipline) after serving on a Disciplinary Board (five member trial panel for attorney discipline) until judicial appointment in 2003

  • Current or former member of numerous other judicial and legal committees including but not limited to:

    • Rules of Appellate Procedure

    • Alternative Dispute Resolution

    • Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions

    • Circuit Judges Association Executive committees

    • Vice-chair of legislatively created Business and Complex Litigation Study Committee

    • Chair of Alabama Judicial Article Study Committee

  • Past President of the city-wide PTA council and other PTAs within a public school system

  • Chaired a Zoning Board of Adjustment for one city and served on Planning and Zoning Commission for another city

  • Board service on numerous charitable organizations

  • Frequent speaker at civic clubs statewide on law related topics




Education


J.D. (1984), Cumberland School of Law

  • cum laude (top 10%)

  • Member, Curia Honoris Honor Society

B.S., Commerce & Business Administration (1981)

The University of Alabama