After exhausting his appeals, State Rep. Ronald Reynolds turned himself in to Montgomery County authorities Friday to begin serving up to a year in jail.
He told court officials, “he wishes to begin his time in custody as soon as possible,” according to court documents which stated Reynolds was not considered to be a flight risk.
The Missouri City Democrat lost his appeal on misdemeanor charges of ambulance chasing. He was convicted in 2015 of barratry, commonly called ambulance chasing. He was one of eight Houston area lawyers charged in 2015 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.
The offense is punishable by up to a year in prison. As a result of the conviction, he was not allowed to practice law and eventually filed bankruptcy since he was barred from making a living as a lawyer.
He said at the time this would allow him to spend more time with his constituents. Reynolds has been a champion of the fight to bring single-member districts to the Fort Bend County Independent School District.
On Aug. 29, State Sen. Boris Miles penned an op-ed piece pushing for the single-member districts.
“FBISD remains one of the few elected bodies in the state to employ an at-large system of voting. In such a system, voters are denied the ability to choose a representative from their own community and instead are forced to vote from a list of several candidates who ostensibly represent a broader area. Officials elected under such methods can be less diverse than the community and less accountable to constituents,” Miles stated in the letter.
His office did not respond to requests for comments on Reynolds’ imprisonment.
Reynolds staff issued a statement following Reynolds being taken into custody.
“Today, Representative Ron Reynolds voluntarily revoked his appeal bond so that he could be prepared to start the 86th Legislative Session on time. Rep. Reynolds attorney is still working on various legal challenges and he is confident that his misdemeanor conviction will be overturned. 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. Rep. Reynolds and his staff have a strong work ethic and have always been very attentive to his constituents. Rep. Reynolds looks forward to continuing to fight for his constituents during the upcoming session,” his office said.
Though he is sentenced to a year in jail, the length of his stay has not been pre-determined and could be reduced for good behavior. Reynolds apparent hope is that he can maintain his position as a state legislator and be done with his sentence before January.
His chief of staff, Jennifer Brader added, “As staff, we will continue to handle all constituent casework and requests, and we will be representing him at meetings and events. We will continue to work on his behalf until he is released.”
Reynolds is running unopposed for his Senate seat on the Nov. 6 elections and could potentially spend some or all of next year’s Legislative session behind bars.