Five years after his initial indictment for illegally soliciting cases as a lawyer, Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds recently entered the Montgomery County Jail and began serving a one-year sentence for barratry, though he has vowed to continue fighting the charge.
Reynolds, who is allowed to keep his job as a lawmaker because he was not convicted of a felony, voluntarily revoked his appeal bond so he could be released from jail in time to serve during the 86th legislative session beginning in 2019. He expects to be released from jail in less than six months, according to a statement released by his legislative office.
“Rep. Reynolds’ attorney is still working on various legal challenges and he is confident that his misdemeanor conviction will be overturned,” according to the statement. “Moreover, Rep. Reynolds has full confidence that his experienced staff will be able to handle any immediate needs of his constituents, during his 4-6 month absence.”
Reynolds’ criminal case experienced many twists and turns after he was indicted in 2013 on felony barratry charges, alleging that he improperly solicited personal injury legal clients by paying a nonlawyer to contact car accident victims through police reports.
Reynolds denied the allegations at the time, calling them “baseless.”
Despite the fact that he was awaiting trial on felony charges, a conviction on which would have prevented his serving as a lawmaker, the Missouri City Democrat still won re-election to the Texas House by a landslide in 2014, receiving 67 percent of the vote.
Later that same year, Judge Lisa Michalk of the 221st District Court declared a mistrial in Reynolds’ felony barratry case after learning that one of the jurors on the case was overheard speaking with other jurors about the fact that a co-defendant in Reynolds’ case had pleaded guilty.
In early 2015, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office decided to dismiss the felony barratry charges against Reynolds but refiled misdemeanor barratry charges against him to avoid a double jeopardy bar.
In November 2015, Reynolds left a courtroom in handcuffs after another Montgomery County jury convicted him of five counts of misdemeanor barratry, earning him a sentence of one year in jail. Reynolds was soon released from jail after posting an appeal bond.
Reynolds was issued an interlocutory suspension to his law license in 2016 after the Texas Board of Disciplinary Appeals found that Reynolds’ offenses were intentional and serious crimes under the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Procedure.
And in 2017, El Paso’s Eighth Court of Appeals affirmed Reynolds’ misdemeanor convictions after ruling that a rational jury could have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that Reynolds permitted a case runner to illegally solicit clients within 30 days of an accident.
Joel Daniels, a Montgomery County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Reynolds, said he’s glad Reynolds is behind bars.
“We’re gratified that the court was now in a position to give effect to the jury’s conviction and sentence,” Daniels said. “And we’re also gratified to see that the appellate court’s review of this case rendered that Mr. Reynolds received a fair trial.’’