Even though he could be facing a year in jail after an appellate court ruled against him, State Rep. Ron Reynolds said he is so confident his conviction for barratry will be overturned by a higher court that he is running again in 2018 for his House District 27 seat.
A local district attorney, however, said the Appeals Court decision brings Reynolds “one step closer to justice.”
“I feel that the appellate court unanimous decision affirming the correctness of the trial court and jury brings him one step closer to justice,” said Montgomery County prosecutor Joel Daniels, one of the prosecutors in the case.
Reynolds was convicted in 2015 of barratry, commonly called ambulance chasing. He was one of eight Houston area lawyers charged in 2013 with the offense and the only one who did not accept a plea. He represented himself in court.
In November, a three-panel appellate court upheld the initial decision by Montgomery County jurors that he worked with a convicted felon to solicit clients for his law firm. Texas law states that attorneys cannot contact clients within a 30-day period of an accident.
Robert Valdez had a chiropractic business and Reynolds claimed he thought Valdez was recommending his medical clients. The prosecutors argued that Valdez used fresh police reports immediately following vehicle crashes, contacted the drivers who were not at fault, and gave the names to Reynolds for his personal injury law business in exchange for payment from Reynolds.
It is a misdemeanor conviction and does not preclude Reynolds from serving as a state representative, Daniels said.
“The evidence showed he was paying an ex-convict named Robert Valdez to send him cases that Valdez had illegally solicited,” Daniels said.
Reynolds ended up having his law license suspended and filing bankruptcy because he could not practice. He said those were issues with his private practice, not his role as a state representative.
Still a believer in law, Reynolds said he is taking the matter to the Court of Criminal Appeals.
“I am optimistic that the Court of Criminal Appeals will render a decision in my favor,” Reynolds said. “In the last election, I had four quality opponents, but my constituents know my record. I am accused of allowing someone to market personal injury cases on my behalf in less than 30 days. It has nothing to do with my role as a state representative and most of my constituents are able to distinguish between this and my legal practice.”
He said he is proud of what he has been able to fight for as a state representative.
“I’m the proud co-author of the equal pay act,” he said. “I don’t think any man should be paid more for doing the same job as a woman. I was proud to be the only male joint author.”
He introduced bills to impeach President Donald Trump, to create a special prosecutor to handle cases when an officer harms or kills an unarmed person, a bill to increase the minimum wage to $15, and a bill to create a single-member district for the Fort Bend Independent School District. Some of his bills garnered hearings but did not pass. He said hearings are often the first step leading to passage.
“Our elected officials don’t reflect the values of the majority, only the top 3 percent of the population but that is changing,” he said. “I have the confidence of the people that matter, my constituents who can hire and fire me. I’m around in the community and I’m hearing them say, ‘we wish you wouldn’t be the target of this, we’re supportive of you and plan to vote for you,’” he said.