Attorney Kenneth Ravenell, who was convicted last month for laundering money for a drug organization, is asking the state’s highest court not to suspend his law license, and dozens of prominent local defense attorneys and clients have expressed support for him.
Ravenell filed a response to the Maryland Court of Appeals following a petition for discipline and request for immediate suspension of Ravenell’s law license by the state Attorney Grievance Commission. Ravenell was previously charged by federal authorities with racketeering, drug conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly helping direct the operation of marijuana boss and nightclub impresario Richard Byrd. Byrd, who is serving 26 years in prison, testified against Ravenell, as did other members of his organization.
A jury convicted Ravenell of money laundering, and he faces the possibility of years in prison.
In his response filed Thursday, Ravenell argued that the decision to suspend his license is “discretionary, rather than mandatory” and asked the court to wait for the full disposition of the case.
His sentencing is scheduled for May. Ravenell’s legal team has indicated it intends to appeal the conviction.
In his response, Ravenell said he promptly disclosed his conviction to the bar counsel, and that he has not faced any discipline during his 37-year career practicing law. Ravenell also cited his reputation within the legal community, and included 39 letters of support from attorneys and clients, including the families of Anton Black and Korryn Gaines, both of whom were killed by police officers.
Ravenell’s response argues that his federal conviction does not reflect any “intentional dishonesty.” His case centered on the acceptance of legal fees from Byrd, whom he refers to as “a disgruntled former client.” He said Byrd misled him, and that if he had known Byrd was laundering money through his business, he would have stopped representing him.
Among the letters of support are one from the Maryland American Civil Liberties Union and the Black family. Anton Black was a Black teen who died in custody on the Eastern Shore in 2018. His death contributed to the Maryland legislature passing sweeping police reforms last year.
Ravenell was contacted by the ACLU to represent Black’s family, which filed a lawsuit against three officers, the medical examiner, and three townships. The case is pending in U.S. District Court.
“We feel that losing Mr. Ravenell’s representation at this point in our legal battle against the defendants will be detrimental to our effort to seek justice for Anton,” Black’s family wrote.
The ACLU wrote that the organization has never weighed in on an attorney disciplinary matter, but that in this case, Ravenell has an “untarnished record of work and ethical conduct.” It noted the jury acquitted him of all counts except one, which he intends to appeal. Also, the ACLU said, Ravenell has “active clients who simply will not be able to find comparable counsel.”