By LeaAnne Klentzman
In April 2012 Reynolds and three others were charged with barratry. When he stood in the courtroom last year, Reynolds said, “I stand in front of you wrongfully accused, personally and professionally embarrassed by the unfortunate allegations against me.”
Barratry, under Texas law, is loosely defined as the solicitation of clients for professional services that are not legally authorized. In short, a personal injury attorney cannot call or contact an accident victim, nor can they pay someone to contact an accident victim in order to represent them.
The lawyer must wait for the victim to contact them. The law states, “A person commits an offense if they are an attorney, chiropractor, physician, surgeon, or private investigator licensed to practice in this (Texas) state or any person licensed, certified, or registered by a health care regulatory agency of this state; … with the intent to obtain professional employment for himself or for another, sends or knowingly permits to be sent to an individual who has not sought the person’s employment, legal representation, advice.”
The charges against Reynolds and two others all stemmed from a traffic accident where an attorney who was involved in an accident made allegations that Reynolds inappropriately contacted them.
At the time of the indictment Reynolds said, “In the early evening of Tuesday, April 24, 2012, I was arrested for the alleged violation of a law known as barratry, or the unlawful solicitation of clients by lawyers. While the facts of the case have yet to be disclosed to me, it is my intent to fully cooperate with the prosecutors who are pursuing the charges,” said Rep. Reynolds. He went on to say, “I maintain my innocence and plan to vigorously defend myself against all allegations. Although it appears that the charges filed against me are politicized, I do not take the matter lightly. In fact, since becoming an elected official, I have voted for new laws holding lawyers guilty of barratry, more accountable to their victims. It is my hope that the truth regarding the allegations will soon be made clear. I have full confidence in our judicial system and look forward to a prompt resolution.”
Reynolds’ legal woes ended with the announcement of the dismissal of charges against him and the other two co-defendants on February 27, 2013. In that announcement Reynolds said, “I want to thank District Attorney Mike Anderson for doing the right thing and dismissing my case,” said Rep. Reynolds. “I said from day one that once the facts came out, justice would prevail and I would be vindicated of all charges. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and supporting me and my family during this challenging time. I never lost faith in God and the Criminal Justice System.”
The case against Reynolds began to unravel when the credibility of the District Attorney’s Investigator Lonnie Blevins was called into question. According to reports the Harris County District Attorney’s Investigator on the case, Lonnie Blevins, is now himself under investigation on federal charges, which has led to the dismissal of these charges and several others. Blevins has been accused of stealing valuable comic books that are related to a case he was investigating as part of his official duties as a Texas Peace Officer. Because of Blevins’ personal legal woes, evidence he touched in any case could potentially be tainted. As a result of Blevins’ alleged misconduct all charges in Reynolds case and possibly up to other 50 cases will be dismissed; which in turn may place as many as 150 different charges in the same jeopardy.
Ron Reynolds is a partner of the law firm of Brown, Brown, & Reynolds in Bellaire. That firm specializes in Family law, Social Security/Disability law and personal injury law. Reynolds is the first African-American elected to represent Fort Bend County in the State Legislature since the Re-Construction.