Kelly E. O'Donnell, JCD

Canon Lawyer


Kelly O'Donnell, JCD  has been a practicing canon lawyer for the past thirty years. She has also served as a Tribunal Director.  Up until February 2016,  Dr. O'Donnell held the position of Judge for the Fresno Diocesan Tribunal. She continues to participate as a Court Expert for ecclesiastical matters in civil courts.

Expert Witness

If you are in need of a canon lawyer, Dr. O'Donnell is available as an expert witness for attorneys. Her qualifications include:

  • Experience defending the rights of clergy, religious and laity
  • Expertise in the annulment process
  • Knowledge and experience in parish closing issues
  • Experience in penal process and oral contentious trials
  • Experienced in Administrative procedures and processes
  • Member of the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA), Canadian Canon Law Society (CCLS) and the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland (GLSGBI)
  • Speaks fluent Spanish and Italian

Guest Speaker

Kelly O'Donnell is a frequent guest lecturer on juridical and moral issues related to ecclesiastical and civil concerns. She is available to give presentations regarding topics in Canon Law to groups and conferences.


Dr. O'Donnell's canon law teaching experience began in 1983. She has been a lecturer at California State University, Bakersfield; The Diocesan Institute in San Diego; and adjunct professor at Bakersfield College. Since 2011, Dr. O'Donnell has been an adjunct professor in the MBA program at California Lutheran University.

Our Lady Seat of Wisdom

Community Involvement

In addition to sharing her legal knowledge and expertise with those who need it, Dr. O'Donnell also believes in taking the time to give back to the community. In 2017,  St. Vincent de Paul received a $50,000.00 grant from Dignity Health Foundation in California to feed the homeless. The entire award amount was specified for food only. Kelly wrote the grant for the organization.


Comprehensive Business Law, Revised First Edition by Michael Bootsma, Michael Thieme, Charles Damschen, Sophia Harvey, and Craig Nierman, in preparation for a second edition, peer review editor, 2016.

A Tale of Two Tribunals:  Management Then and Now, CLSA Proceedings, 77, 2015.  Co-authored with Rev. Anthony Bawyn, JCD. Published in 2016.

Business Law:  Text and Cases-Legal, Ethical, Global and Corporate Environment, 2014, 13th edition.  Mentioned as a contributor.