Meet the Team

At Lavelle and Rittenhouse Attorneys at Law of Athens, Ohio, we are committed to giving you the legal representation you deserve. When you work with us, you work with experienced litigators who always take a stand for you. Get to know a little more about our legal team. Their wealth of experience and professionalism ensures a solid chance in court.

John P. Lavelle


Lavelle was born in Athens, Ohio and attended Athens High School. He graduated in 1975. He was drawn to the South due to his long association with Tennessee Walking Horses. He attended College at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee majoring in Business (B.B.A., 1979) with a minor in Agriculture (Horse Science). While in college he was employed at Womack Stables and McLean Trucking Co. Some of the activities he was involved in include:

  • Noble Ruler (President) of the Beta Theta Chapter of ALPHA GAMMA RHO(AGR)
  • Sam Paschall Memorial Scholarship recipient
  • Vice-President of the Inter-Fraternity Council
  • Served as the University's mascot appearing astride a Tennessee Walking Horse at football games

Upon graduation from College he attended the Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama. The strong trial advocacy program and award winning Student Bar Association were major factors in his decision to attend law school at Cumberland. In law school, John was:

  • Elected Junior Class Representative to the Student Bar Association.
  • Selected as a member of the International Moot Court team and the Trial Advocacy Board.
  • Elected President of the Senior Class.
  • The ABA selected the Cumberland Law School as having the "Most Outstanding Student Bar Association in the Country" when he served on the board his senior year.

He returned to Athens in 1982 when he joined the firm of Lavelle and Goldsberry Co., L.P.A. In 1991, he started his own firm engaged in the general practice of law, with an emphasis on criminal defense, and plaintiff's personal injury actions in Southeastern Ohio. Over the years he has added associates and now offers a full range of legal services including more transactional and planning services. Throughout the majority of his career, he shared an office with his father William A. Lavelle (1925-2016) who started practicing in Athens in 1952. They tried many cases together throughout Southeastern Ohio before William's retirement after sixty years of practice. In addition he has served as Special Counsel to five Ohio Attorney Generals, represented Hocking College from 1984-1995 and began as legal counsel for the Hocking Conservancy District in 1992. His practice includes Ohio and Federal Courts. In May of 2001, Lavelle was sworn in to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States with his brother, sister and father. Over the course of his 35 plus year legal career, Lavelle tried scores of jury trials in many areas ranging from Aggravated Murder with death penalty specifications, Eminent Domain, Personal Injury actions, and all other types of criminal cases throughout Southeastern Ohio. In 2010 with Rusty Rittenhouse as co-counsel, Lavelle obtained the highest recorded jury verdict in Athens County history which was well in excess of a million dollars as damages in a fraud trial that lasted over six weeks.

The love of wide open spaces and frequent trips to the Big Sky State of Montana led him to take the Montana Bar exam. He has been a member of the State Bar of Montana and licensed to practice in Montana since 1991. Some of his professional memberships include the American, Ohio and Athens County Bar Associations. As an avid horseman and competitor, he was elected as an Ohio director to the National Cutting Horse Association in Ft. Worth, Texas and serves on many committees with NCHA. In 2009, he was nominated to the board of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency State Executive Committee by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, OH and served in that capacity during 2010 hearing appeals and performing other duties.

Locally, he is a member of many civic groups. Together with his wife Lora, he operates Lavelle Farms which is involved in many aspects of the horse and livestock industry.

Sky Pettey


Pettey practiced as a staff attorney for Ohio Legal Rights Service, a state agency that advocates for people with disabilities, before joining the office in 2001. He is an Athens native and graduated from Athens High School in 1990.

Pettey received his Bachelor's degree in English from Oberlin College in 1994, and graduated from Ohio State University College of Law in 1999, where he was Managing Editor of The Ohio State University Journal on Dispute Resolution. His article on employment arbitration was published in the Journal on Dispute Resolution in 1999. He was named a "Rising Star" in the Ohio legal profession by SuperLawyers magazine in 2011. Pettey presently serves as a Commissioner on the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Pettey has represented hundreds of clients in both misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in courts across southeastern Ohio. He also handles civil litigation in both state and federal courts including personal injuries, civil rights, employment, probate litigation, contract disputes, appeals, and others. He can also assist you with probating estates, preparing wills and advance directives, estate planning issues, and with all aspects of guardianships. He has helped many clients with small business start ups, landlord tenant disputes, and real estate litigation and transactions. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Ohio, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Pettey is a member of the Ohio State and Athens County Bar Associations, the Ohio Association for Justice, and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Pettey resides in Athens with his wife, Beth, and daughters, Jade and Ava.

"Rusty" Robert R. Rittenhouse


Rittenhouse served as John P. Lavelle's law clerk before joining the office as an associate attorney in 2005. He is an Athens native and graduated from Athens High School in 1998. Rittenhouse received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Ohio University in 2002, and graduated from The University of Dayton School of Law in 2005. He is a member of the Ohio State and Athens County Bar Associations. and is licensed to practice in Federal Court.

Rittenhouse is a member of the Athens City School Board. He also serves the Athens County Municipal Court as an acting judge. His practice includes a wide range of cases including Landlord-Tenant issues, Business Formation, Personal Injury actions, Estate Administration and Litigation as well as handling significant Real Estate transactions.

Rittenhouse resides in Athens with his wife Emily and their children Helen and Finn. Outside of the legal field, he is the founder of the Tae Kwon Do program at the Athens Community Center and performs as a magician.