Court proceedings about lawyer Kenneth Ravenell's representation of alleged criminal should be made public, filing says

William Bond, a Maryland federal-courts provocateur and pro se litigant who runs the "Baltimore Corruption Wire" Facebook page, today filed a motion to intervene in the criminal case against alleged drug-trafficker/money-launderer Richard Byrd and his co-conspirators, asking that a "docket error" in the case be "corrected," the filing states. The motion seeks to unveil what happened in a scheduled Sept. 11 "attorney inquiry hearing" over prominent Baltimore attorney Kenneth Ravenell’s representation of Byrd.

City Paper in September reported, based on court documents, that prosecutors apparently believe Ravenell served Byrd in ways that aided the charged conspiracy, and in October reported that Ravenell apparently left the law firm where he had long been partner, which rebranded itself Murphy Falcon Murphy Xinis Koch, removing Ravenell's name from its logo. The coverage noted that the Byrd docket includes notice of a Sept. 11 attorney-inquiry hearing before U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett, who is presiding over the case, but "does not indicate whether the scheduled hearing took place, nor does it convey what may have resulted, if anything," and explained that "such hearings can be called for any number of reasons, such as addressing potential conflicts in an attorney's representation of a defendant or resolving a defendant's complaints about an attorney's efforts on his or her behalf."

Bond's filing states that City Paper's coverage "has created much public interest" in the Byrd case, and argues that the court must "make immediately public the record of the 'Attorney Inquiry Hearing' and all related information to that action," or, if not, "must explain to the public why not."

In support of his argument, Bond quotes appellate-court opinion that "the denial of access must be necessitated by a compelling government interest and narrowly tailored to serve that interest," and that "in making that determination, the district court must follow the procedural requirements" laid out in another appellate-court opinion. The court's requirements, the quoted opinion states, include giving "the public adequate notice" of the proposed sealing; providing an "opportunity to object" to "interested persons"; and, before ordering the sealing, stating “its reasons on the record, supported by specific findings” as well as "its reasons for rejecting alternatives."

Bond is a frequent letter-writer to newspapers, including to City Paper, and his prior legal disputes involving federal lawyers and judges have been covered in City Paper's pages here, here, and here, as well as in The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post, always colored by the fact that he long ago killed his father with a hammer.

Ravenell is still on record as Byrd's attorney in the case, though since City Paper reported his apparent departure from Murphy Falcon Murphy, the court has appointed two additional attorneys to represent Byrd: William C. Brennan Jr. and William Arnold Mitchell Jr., both of Brennan McKenna, a firm in Greenbelt, Maryland.

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