Maryland defense lawyer Kenneth W. Ravenell wants to keep his law license while he appeals his conviction on a federal charge of money laundering.
In a new filing before Maryland’s Court of Appeals, Ravenell argues that he does not pose a risk to the public if he continues to practice law. The filing also includes more than three dozen letters of support from fellow lawyers.
“Mr. Ravenell has overwhelmingly demonstrated his effective and unimpeachable abilities regarding all aspects of the practice of law and his well-respected reputation,” wrote Ravenell’s attorney, Randall Craig.
“Accordingly, it is clear that permitting Mr. Ravenell to continue to practice law until the final disposition of his case on appeal presents no danger to the public.”
Ravenell’s law license is in danger because a jury found him guilty late last month of a single count of money laundering.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Ravenell was an adviser to a major marijuana trafficking ring run by a longtime criminal defense client, Richard Byrd, and that Byrd paid Ravenell millions of dollars in drug proceeds over a period of several years.
The indictment also accused Ravenell of using his law firm at the time, Murphy, Falcon & Murphy, to launder drug money for Byrd.
Ravenell’s defense team argued that he did not know Byrd was paying with drug money and that his handling of Byrd’s money was not unusual.
Jurors largely agreed and acquitted Ravenell of most charges but found him guilty of laundering money. Ravenell’s sentencing is set for May.
Soon after the verdict, the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission sought disciplinary action, as is typical when a lawyer is convicted of a serious crime.
As part of that process, Bar Counsel Lydia E. Lawless asked Maryland’s Court of Appeals to temporarily suspend Ravenell’s law license, the first step toward more serious consequences for Ravenell.
Chief Judge Joseph M. Getty issued a show cause order that gave Ravenell 15 days to argue why his license shouldn’t be suspended immediately.
Ravenell’s response asked the appeals court to either deny bar counsel’s request for a temporary suspension or to designate a judge who could oversee a hearing on the issue.
Lawless declined to comment Friday.
The response filed Thursday argues that the case against Ravenell was flawed, and that he is likely to succeed on appeal. Ravenell’s defense team plans to appeal the trial judge’s handling of jury instructions for the money laundering charge, among other issues, according to the filing.
Ravenell’s attorney also noted that he is handling several high-profile civil rights cases in which his clients wish to continue working with him.
Even while under indictment, Ravenell continued handling cases. He is representing the family of Anton Black, a 19-year-old Black man from the Eastern Shore who died during a struggle with officers in 2018, and a 5-year-old boy who was shot twice by a Baltimore County police officer who also fatally shot the boy’s mother, Korryn Gaines.
The families in both cases wrote letters asking that Ravenell be allowed to continue representing them.
And the ACLU of Maryland, which has worked with Ravenell on civil rights cases, wrote a letter of support.
“We have never before weighed in on an attorney discipline matter,” the group wrote, noting that many cases of alleged lawyer misconduct justify license suspension.
“Here, a widely respected and experienced lawyer with an otherwise untarnished record of work and ethical conduct has been acquitted of every single count but one that is going up on appeal, with active clients who simply will not be able to find comparable counsel,” the group wrote.