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You can’t legislate from jail

That’s the Ron Reynolds story.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

There’s a chance state Rep. Ron Reynolds could be sentenced to serve a year in jail next year. If that happens, he wouldn’t have to resign, according to state officials.

The Houston-area Democrat recently lost his appeal to a 2016 conviction of five misdemeanor barratry charges for illegal solicitation of legal clients. Reynolds, a once-practicing personal injury lawyer, says his attorney is working to submit a petition to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals to review the opinions issued by Texas’ 8th Court of Appeals, which upheld his conviction. It’s a last-ditch attempt to avoid serving his sentence of a year in jail.

In an interview with the Tribune, Reynolds refused to address what he would do if his final appeal fails.

“We’re very – and I’ve even got a second opinion – are very confident that we’ll prevail, so I don’t think it will get to that point,” Reynolds said in a phone interview.

Should Reynolds end up in jail next year, the four-term lawmaker could still hold office and continue to run for re-election. According to Sec. 141.001 of the Texas Election Code, the only criminal misconduct that would require an elected official to resign would be a felony conviction. Reynolds’ convictions qualify as misdemeanors.

“So technically, the representative could be serving out his sentence for a misdemeanor and still be a state representative,” said Sam Taylor, communications director for the Texas Secretary of State’s Office.


Joel Daniels, a Montgomery County assistant district attorney who was among the lawyers who tried Reynolds’ case, noted that the opinions issued by the three-judge Eighth Court of Appeals on Nov. 29 were unanimous for each of the five charges. That bodes well for the prosecution’s case, he said.

“We are greatly gratified by the appeals court rejecting Mr. Reynolds’ attempt to overturn a jury’s verdict,” Daniels said. “This important decision brings Mr. Reynolds one step closer to justice.”

See here for the last update. I honestly don’t know what Reynolds’ end game is. I understand having hope, but you gotta be realistic, too. Reynolds received a decent amount of establishment support in his re-election bid two years ago. I got the sense at that time that patience was running out for him. In this environment, I have a hard time seeing how anyone could endorse him again, regardless of his voting record and their past personal relationship. Wilvin Carter is Reynolds’ opponent this time around. Perhaps the voters will render moot any concern about how Rep. Reynolds could perform his legislative duties while in jail.

Appeals court upholds Reynolds barratry conviction

Not good.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

A Texas appeals court has upheld the conviction of state Rep. Ron Reynolds, who was found guilty in 2015 of engaging in a scheme to illegally solicit potential clients for his law firm.

The three-judge appellate panel ruled Wednesday that there was sufficient evidence to convict Reynolds and that the trial judge did not violate any rules relating to the introduction of evidence.


In a phone interview Thursday, Reynolds said he plans to continue appealing his conviction and remain free on a $25,000 bond. He said he couldn’t respond to the appellate judges’ ruling because he hadn’t read their opinion.

“It would be premature of me,” Reynolds said. “Once (my lawyer) gets everything filed and once everything is adjudicated, I feel very confident I’ll be vindicated and cleared on appeal.”

In his appeal, Reynolds argued that he believed Valdez did not initiate contact with the potential clients for legal representation. Reynolds said he thought Valdez referred clients who had initially sought out Valdez for treatment at his medical clinics.

The judges found enough evidence to uphold the conviction, noting that Reynolds paid Valdez in cash, did not document the payments and used code words in text messages to cover potentially nefarious motives, among other tactics.

“The evidence here supports a rational construct that (Reynolds) was aware of Valdez’s scheme and knowingly permitted his conduct,” Eighth Court of Appeals Chief Justice Ann Crawford McClure wrote.

Rep. Reynolds was convicted of misdemeanor barratry in November of 2015, and received the maximum sentence of a year in jail a couple of days later. He has alleged that racial bias was a factor in his prosecution and conviction. His law license is on suspension while his case is being litigated. You know how I feel about this – I wish Rep. Reynolds would step down so he can better take care of his own business. I have no idea what his plan is for dealing with his legal issues at this time, but he’s once again running for election, and once again he has a primary opponent. One way or another, at some point this saga will come to an end.

Chron overview of HD27

Like it or not, Rep. Ron Reynolds will be back for another term.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

When State Rep. Ron Reynolds learned he would face Democratic primary opposition this year for the first time since he won his seat, he called it “the biggest challenge of my political career.”

Reynolds went on to battle three candidates from the party who sought to serve House District 27, an area Reynolds has represented since 2010. Victory did not come in a landslide: a close finish forced him into a run-off, which he won by a slim but safe margin.

Reynolds, after all, was not entering the primary untarnished. Late last year, a Montgomery County jury convicted him on five counts of misdemeanor barratry, the illegal solicitation of legal clients known as “ambulance chasing.” He represented himself in the trial, fighting allegations that he unlawfully paid someone to solicit clients involved in accidents. He lost and subsequently received a year-long jail sentence, a conclusion he deemed racially-motivated and “a modern-day lynching.” He has appealed the conviction.

The 43-year-old incumbent now faces one last barrier to victory in November: a Republican and fellow lawyer named Ken Bryant.

Reynolds, the House Democratic whip, said he expects to be re-elected. Bryant, who has served as a Fort Bend ISD trustee, declined to comment for this story without knowing who the Houston Chronicle was going to endorse. The Chronicle news division and editorial page are separate divisions and the editorial board ultimately made no endorsement in the November race because Bryant did not meet with them.

A Reynolds loss in November would represent a “huge upset,” said Jay Aiyer, assistant professor of political science at Texas Southern University.


Aiyer attributed this success so far to what he called a “disconnect” in voters’ minds between the criminal allegations Reynolds faces and his ability as a legislator. Reynolds has been well liked and respected by leadership and peers in the House, Aiyer said, opinions that seem to have been strong enough to overcome personal allegations some may find troubling, and on which his Democratic primary contenders had sought to capitalize. “I think voters, by and large, stood by me because of my strong record and my advocacy for them in my three terms in office,” Reynolds said. “I believe that we’ve weathered the storm and we haven’t missed a beat.”

No doubt Reynolds survived his primary and runoff due to his constituents generally liking him, based on his record and personal affability. He’ll survive in November because HD27 is a heavily Democratic district – President Obama received 68.8% of the vote there in 2012. Beyond that, we’ll see. Good will with voters and other elected officials got Reynolds through this cycle, but good will is a finite resource. Reynolds still has a jail sentence and the suspension of his law license hanging over him, and I’ll bet someone challenges his leadership position in the Democratic House caucus. Maybe conditions will be better for him in 2018, and maybe they will be worse. He himself took two tries to win his seat; perhaps it will take two tries for someone else to win it. He’s in a stable position now, but his saga is far from over.

Rep. Reynolds files for bankruptcy

This was expected.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

Embattled state Rep. Ron Reynolds has filed for personal bankruptcy following a judge’s order to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to a former client.

The filing comes as Reynolds, the Democratic whip in the House, is also appealing a conviction last year in Montgomery County on barratry charges, commonly known as ambulance chasing. He has also been suspended by the state bar.


Reynolds filed for Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy on July 14, federal court records show. Legal experts said Texas law allows filers to keep their homes while selling other assets to pay their debts.

In his filings, Reynolds listed $580,000 in assets against more than $1.3 million in liabilities, including the debt to Calloway. He also listed $3,000 in unpaid Houston-area tolls and $15,000 in fines owed to the Texas Ethics Commissions for failing to file financial disclosure forms.

Reynolds was convicted of barratry last year in Montgomery County after jurors agreed he paid a middleman to approach recent accident victims within 30 days of accidents, which Texas law forbids in an effort to fight fraud and keep mourning relatives from being swarmed by personal injury lawyers.

He said his legal troubles are personal issues that “won’t have any impact” on his work for the district, which includes Missouri City, Stafford, Sienna Plantation and parts of Houston and Sugar Land. Questions about his ability to effectively legislate are “just campaign rhetoric,” he said.

“It’s easy to say it from afar, and maybe someone else would be distracted … but for me I’ve been very focused,” Reynolds said in a phone interview. He said his office helps constituents with issues ranging from air quality to road construction and child support.

You know the story; by now, it’s too depressing to bother doing a recap. Reynolds has debts he says he can’t pay, a law license he can’t use, and a jail sentence hanging over his head. Sooner or later, something’s gotta give.

Board of Disciplinary Appeals suspends Rep. Reynolds’ law license

More bad news.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

Convicted of five misdemeanor counts of illegally soliciting clients to his personal injury law practice, state Rep. Ron Reynolds is now without a license to practice law.

As Reynolds appeals his convictions, the Texas Supreme Court’s Board of Disciplinary Appeals has suspended the Missouri City Democrat’s law license, saying it would render a final judgment when the appeals process is done.

The embattled Democratic lawmaker has spent years fighting accusations of wrongdoing in his work as an attorney in the Houston area. In November, a Montgomery County jury found him guilty of five barratry counts in an “ambulance-chasing for profit” scheme and sentenced him to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Reynolds attended the April 29 Disciplinary Appeals Board hearing in Austin, in which he asked the board to not suspend his law license while his appeal is pending.

Click here for all things Ron Reynolds. You know how I feel, so I’ll spare you the tedium. This action was not unexpected, and all I can say is that I hope Reynolds has a way to provide for his family while he can’t practice law. Both the Trib last week and the Observer this week covered the HD27 runoff, which despite everything remains Reynolds’ to lose. If he does win, then I hope he’s able to actually serve, because despite his continued assertions of innocence and prosecutorial zeaoltry, he’s still got a jail sentence hanging over his head, and Democrats are going to need all hands on deck next session. And I’ll stop here so I don’t violate my promise from the second sentence above. We’ll know soon enough.

Reynolds hit with $500K judgment


Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds has been ordered to pay $504,000 in damages for failing to give a grieving mother her share of settlement money from a 2010 lawsuit.

The embattled lawmaker, who is also an attorney, failed to give his former client, Nancy Ann Calloway, her share of a $250,000 settlement from a lawsuit stemming from her 23-year-old daughter’s death in a car crash, a Harris County judge ruled Friday.

After the award was handed down, the 55-year-old flight attendant teared up as she described Reynolds repeatedly putting her off when she asked for money that she had earmarked for a tombstone for her daughter, April Cherisse.

“It’s more pain in a painful situation,” Calloway said. “It’s a tragedy.”


State District Judge Grant Dorfman agreed with Calloway that the lawyer owed her $168,000 in actual damages and $336,000 in punitive damages.

Reynolds had given Calloway about $82,000 – about half of what he owed her – about 18 months after he received the settlement check, according to testimony.

On Friday, the judge agreed that Reynolds should forfeit his share of the mediated settlement because of his misdeeds.

After he ruled, the judge told Calloway that he had seen other consumers wronged by unethical business practices, but said Calloway’s circumstances were “crueler” than most.

“It’s especially troubling that it is a member of the state bar, much less a state rep,” the judge said.

It was in his capacity as a state representative that Reynolds approached Calloway, she testified Friday. He came to her home to console her two days after her daughter’s death in his role as her local legislator, she said. He then offered to represent her in a lawsuit.

Calloway’s attorney, Jim Culpepper, said authorities may also look at the case as another charge of barratry or in a grievance to the state bar, the agency that licenses attorneys and has the power to disbar them. Culpepper said he has not pursued those kinds of actions because he did not want to be accused of seeking criminal charges to leverage his position in the lawsuit.

As you know, I’ve been following both the primary and runoff in HD27, between Rep. Reynolds and Angelique Bartholomew, and the ongoing saga of Ron Reynolds’ legal problems – see here for plenty of related posts. I’ve said before that I like Rep. Reynolds personally, and I understand why his friends have continued to support him. But I have to say, with each of these stories, it gets harder for me to understand it. Beneath the fold is a long missive from Annie’s List, which is backing Bartholomew, detailing Reynolds’ history of judgments against him by former clients. To be as blunt as I can, this shit is unacceptable. I don’t know all the facts in all these cases, and I’m sure that as his political opponents in this runoff, Annie’s List has put everything in as unflattering a light for Reynolds as they can. But you can grant all the mitigating circumstances and more-to-the-story explanations you like, the pattern of behavior is clear, and we haven’t even mentioned the barratry conviction. Just look at the list of excuses and justifications Reynolds gives in this Trib story, and you’ll see that he’s still not willing to own the problems he has caused. I’m sorry it’s come to this, and I feel terrible for Rep. Reynolds’ family, but we do him no favors by continuing to support his political career. He needs to drop out of the runoff, and get his affairs in order. He owes that to his constituents, his clients, his family and friends and supporters, and himself.


Endorsement watch: What Brown can do for you

The Chron picks its favorite among the challengers in HD27.

Steve Brown

Steve Brown

[Rep. Ron] Reynolds, a three-term incumbent, was named Freshman of the Year by the House Democratic Caucus at the end of the 2011 session; two years later he landed on Texas Monthly’s “Worst” list. This year he needs to attend to his own problems while someone else takes on the task of representing District 27. The district covers most of Missouri City and parts of Houston and Sugar Land.

Challenging the incumbent are first-time candidate Angelique Bartholomew, 46, a certified mediator and director of compliance for a medical firm; Chris Henderson, 30, an assistant district attorney in Galveston County who also is running for the first time; and Steve Brown, 40, a former White House intern who owns a public affairs firm. The former Democratic Party chairman of Fort Bend County, Brown also worked as a budget analyst for then-state Rep. Sylvester Turner and was the Democratic nominee for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission in 2014.

Our choice for the Democratic primary is Brown. With 15 years of experience in politics and public affairs, including an unsuccessful run for the District 27 seat in 2006, he’s conversant with issues that resonate in this diverse, fast-growing district, including education and school finance, health care and economic development.

My interview with Steve Brown is here, and with Angelique Bartholomoew is here. The Chron has been pretty harsh on Reynolds lately – they begged people to challenge him after he was sentenced to jail time for barratry – so it was just a matter of who they liked. They had some good options here.

And as long as we’re discussing candidates the Chron doesn’t like:

Candance White brings a broad perspective and a wealth of experience to her quest to secure the Democratic party’s nomination for [Justice, 14th Court of Appeals District, Place 2]. White, 49, who graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and obtained a master’s in law from the University of Houston Law Center, began her career as an environmental lawyer. She has worked in private practice, served as a city of Houston municipal court judge, as an attorney for Adult Protective Services and as the inter-regional managing attorney for both Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services. Currently, White serves as the Child Welfare Director for Protective Services for Harris County. “I know how to make complex decisions. I make them every day,” White told the editorial board. Her record is even more impressive when compared to that of her primary opponent. Former state appellate court judge Jim Sharp – booted out of office by voters following an episode of bullying behavior – lacks the necessary temperament to hold judicial office. Primary voters should unite behind White and give her a chance to serve on this important bench.

That was from last week. Strictly speaking, Sharp lost a general election in which all Democratic candidates for the 1st and 14th Courts of Appeal were defeated, so the Chron is assuming facts not in evidence. Be that as it may, it was clear who they were going to pick in that race.

Chron overview of HD27 primary

Also known as Ron Reynolds versus the world.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

“This is the biggest challenge of my political career,” Reynolds said. “It will be an uphill climb, but I’m confident.”

The March 1 primary includes lawyer Angelique Bartholomew, prosecutor Christopher Henderson and Steve Brown, former chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats. House District 27 covers most of Missouri City and parts of Houston and Sugar Land.


Despite the legal mess, Reynolds said he has held onto the support of many local Democratic officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green.

“No one has told me to resign,” Reynolds said. “It has been the opposite. They tell me, ‘You have got to keep fighting.’ They see (the conviction) for what it really is. They know the history of Montgomery County, and they know the charge.”

Prosecutors and media, he said, “made it appear that I was convicted of a heinous felony. It was a misdemeanor.”

Reynolds, 42, is well-known and well-liked within the district, said Don Bankston, chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats. Still, the lawmaker is taking the challengers seriously.

“Reynolds is all over the place,” Bankston said. “His signs are everywhere, and he attends every event.”


Whether Reynolds’ criminal case matters to voters remains to be seen. While campaigning door-to-door, Brown said he has heard few people bring it up.

“People hear bits and pieces of it, but I don’t think they know details,” said Brown, who entered the race in part because he considers Reynolds’ legal problems a distraction. “I’m sympathetic. But we have to separate sympathy from being able to move forward as a district.”

Bartholomew, a first-time candidate who has raised money for other Democrats, said she also was concerned about how well Reynolds can serve the district with legal and professional problems swirling about him.

“Distractions like that are difficult for anyone to manage,” she said.

Bartholomew has not mentioned Reynolds in her campaign. Instead she has focused on fixing the school finance system and reducing class sizes, often using the hashtag #allschoolsmatter on Twitter.

“I’m focused on what is important to the district and families like mine,” said Bartholomew, who has five children, ages 7 to 18.

Henderson, meanwhile, has made an issue of the incumbent’s legal woes. On his campaign site, he wrote that barratry is the legal profession’s version of fraud because attorneys are “duping” clients into hiring them.

Anyone committing fraud should not be allowed to hold public office, wrote Henderson, an assistant district attorney in Galveston County. “Elected officials are put in place to create the law. They must also follow the laws they create.”

I will have interviews with Brown and Bartholomew (who was recently endorsed by Annie’s List) next week. I inquired with Rep. Reynolds to do an interview with him as well, but he declined.

I’ll say again, I like Rep. Reynolds and I respect his service in the Lege, but I believe it’s time for a change in HD27. Of course, I don’t live there and I don’t vote there, so it’s not up to me. Objectively, Rep. Reynolds ought to be in political trouble, but it doesn’t always work that way. His legal woes have certainly been news, but they’ve hardly drawn the kind of coverage that Rick Perry or Ken Paxton have for their cases. It’s likely that a fair number of voters know little about his barratry conviction. That’s just the way things are. Those who do know of his travails may well agree with him that he’s being railroaded, or they may decide that this issue doesn’t affect his ability to serve in the Legislature, or that his good service outweighs this problem, or that he’s still the better choice than his opponents. People will make their own decisions for their own reasons, and it doesn’t matter what you or I think. What I do think is that everyone would be better off if Rep. Reynolds dropped out to focus on taking care of his personal business. I think he’s still a favorite to win, though he’ll probably have to survive a runoff to do that. We’ll see what the voters think.

Reynolds loses another request in court

More bad news.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds has lost his bid to resume practicing law while he appeals his conviction for illegally soliciting clients.

Montgomery County County Court-at-Law Judge Mary Ann Turner on Thursday denied the request by Reynolds, who argued that the bond condition prevents him from being able to financially support his family.

Turner also rejected his request for a new trial, prosecutors said. His case was assigned to the state’s Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso.


Reynolds, the first African-American elected to the Texas House from Fort Bend County since Reconstruction, has drawn three opponents in a Democratic primary set for March.

See here and here for the background. I assume the story means that the appeal of his case was “assigned to the state’s Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso”, though I don’t know why that would be so. Can someone explain that to me? Not being able to practice law while his appeal is ongoing is definitely going to be a hardship for Reynolds, but barring anything unexpected it’s not an injustice. He’s in a tough spot, but unless he can prove his bias claim, he didn’t get there by chance.

Reynolds alleges bias in his conviction

Anything is possible.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

A Fort Bend County lawmaker is waging a public counter-offensive against prosecutors in nearby Montgomery County after his unusual conviction for illegally soliciting clients for his law practice, saying that he was the victim of selective prosecution and racial bias.

“I believe this was a modern-day lynching,” state Rep. Ron Reynolds, 42, said in a statement after being released from jail on bond. He is the first African-American since Reconstruction to be elected to the Texas House from Fort Bend County.

But prosecutors say Reynolds is wrongfully crying racism rather than accepting that he did something wrong. He has a history of bad conduct as an attorney, they say. And the other lawyers charged in a scheme that employed a convicted felon to recruit clients accepted plea deals, while he went to trial and lost.

“It’s a desperate ploy by someone who has been convicted in a full and fair jury trial,” Montgomery County prosecutor Joel Daniels said.


Texas law prohibits lawyers, among others, from soliciting clients for claims within 31 days of an accident. The rule is meant to protect victims from fraud and swarms of attorneys. But experts said proving barratry is tough because potentially illegal solicitations also could be considered free speech in some instances.

In the trial, Robert Ramirez Valdez Sr., a four-time felon, testified that Reynolds paid an average of $1,000 for each client he recruited for him.

Afterward, Reynolds said in a statement that the jury disregarded evidence showing that he didn’t know cases referred to him by Valdez had been illegally solicited. He said that will be the basis of his appeal.

“In 2015, it’s a crying shame that discrimination still takes place,” Reynolds said. “I have never made my career about race until this case. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once eloquently stated, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I experienced a gross injustice in Montgomery County, one of the most conservative counties in Texas.”

Reynolds also criticized County Court-at-Law Judge Mary Ann Turner for not proceeding with a bond hearing immediately after his sentencing – a decision that led to him spending a night in jail. And he objected to wearing a jail uniform and shackles on his hands and legs for the hearing the next day, when television cameras were present.

Turner said she could not comment because the case is pending.

Reynolds said he was “singled out because of my status as an African-American elected official.” But his statement didn’t provide specific examples of how race played into his conviction.

See here and here for the background. I mean, sure, there could be bias at work here. I don’t know why Montgomery County would care that much about a legislator for Fort Bend, and there’s the uncomfortable fact that this isn’t Rep. Reynolds’ first brush with barratry; he also has a past history of other ethical issues. As I said, anything is possible, and if Reynolds has evidence of bias to show, I’m more than willing to listen. But I think it’s fair to say that the burden of proof is on him.

Steve Brown to run in HD27

This ought to shake things up a bit.

Steve Brown

Steve Brown

The bad week for state Rep. Ron Reynolds is getting worse.

Steve Brown, the former chairman of the Fort Bend County Democrats, wrote on Twitter Wednesday that he will challenge Reynolds in the March primary. A formal announcement will be made after Thanksgiving, Brown wrote.


Despite his legal problems, Reynolds is seeking a fourth term representing House District 27, which covers parts of Houston, Missouri City, Sugar Land, Pearland, Stafford, Fresno and Arcola.

Brown has worked on campaigns and in legislative offices of several public officials, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Houston; state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston; and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. In 2014, he lost to Republican Ryan Sitton for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry.

Here’s the tweet in question:

See here and here for the background. Brown ran for HD27 back in 2006 against then-Rep. Dora Olivo, getting 39.6% of the vote; Reynolds also lost to Olivo in 2008, then defeated her in 2010. I don’t live in that district, but if I did Steve Brown would get my vote. I’ll have more when he makes his formal announcement.

Reynolds receives jail sentence in barratry case

He got the max for the misdemeanor charge on which he was convicted.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds could spend up to a year in jail after he was sentenced Monday to the maximum penalty following his conviction on charges arising from what prosecutors called an “ambulance chasing for profit” scheme.

A Montgomery County jury sentenced Reynolds to up to 12 months in jail and a $20,000 fine following the attorney’s conviction last week on five counts of misdemeanor barratry, or illegally soliciting clients.

The Missouri City Democrat showed no emotion as County Court-at-Law Judge Mary Ann Turner read the sentence late Monday. He took off his suit jacket and tie and handed it to a friend, and gave his cellphone and watch to his wife. Then he was escorted from the courtroom by deputies and taken to county jail.

The sentence comes as Reynolds, the first African-American since Reconstruction elected to the Texas House from Fort Bend County, was starting to campaign for a fourth term. The misdemeanor convictions don’t require him to give up his seat, but deal a blow to his political and legal careers.

Reynolds’ attorney said he intends to appeal, and the court scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on his request to remain free pending that appeal.

See here for the background. You know how I feel about this, so let me just note that a lot of people have called for our indicted Attorney General to step down from his office. To be sure, the charges hanging over Ken Paxton have had an effect on his ability to do his job, but he’s a long way from seeing a courthouse, much less being convicted of something. If one believes Paxton is unfit to serve, it’s hard to see how one argues in favor of Rep. Reynolds staying in office, and that’s before taking into account the possibility that his jail sentence (if it stands) might overlap with a legislative session. Rep. Reynolds has been barred from practicing law while his appeal is ongoing, which I suspect will put a lot of pressure on him and his family. Again, it brings me no joy to say any of this, but the facts are the facts. The Press has more.

Rep. Ron Reynolds convicted of misdemeanor barratry charge

The word “tawdry” applies to this.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds was convicted Friday of illegally soliciting clients in an “ambulance chasing for profit” scheme, a verdict that carries the threat of jail time and deals a blow to his political career but won’t require him to leave office.

A Montgomery County jury convicted Reynolds, a Missouri City Democrat, of five counts of misdemeanor barratry after a week-long trial in which he represented himself. He was among eight Houston-area lawyers charged in 2013; Reynolds is the only one who did not accept a plea deal.

A teary-eyed Reynolds hugged his wife after the verdict was read. “I always respect the jury’s verdict. But while I respect it, I disagree. Based on the evidence, it did not show that I ever knowingly accepted a solicited case,” said Reynolds, the first African American elected state representative in Fort Bend County since Reconstruction.

Reynolds said he planned to appeal because he doesn’t believe the law was followed.

See here for the past history, and be sure to read the whole story to see why I described it the way I did. I’ll say again what I’ve said before: I like Rep. Reynolds personally, and I value his service as a State Representative, including and especially his leadership on important issues. It is with no joy that I say it’s time for him to conclude his service in the Legislature so he can straighten out his personal life. However well he has served the people of HD27, it’s time for them to have another choice.

Rep. Ron Reynolds to be tried again on barratry charges

Just a misdemeanor this time, for what it’s worth.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

Reynolds was originally charged in 2013 with felony barratry for an alleged “ambulance chasing for profit scheme,” but was convicted by a jury of six counts of a lesser misdemeanor charge “solicitation of professional employment” – essentially acquitting him of the felony charge, his attorney said at the time.

Prosecutors accused Reynolds and seven other Houston-area attorneys of paying thousands of dollars to Robert Ramirez Valdez of Conroe, a four-time felon now serving five years in prison, for his part in scouring Houston police records to recruit car accident victims to become the attorneys’ clients.

Texas law prohibits lawyers – as well as licensed chiropractors, physicians and private investigators – from seeking out and soliciting a client for personal injury, wrongful death, accident or disaster claims.

His conviction was then thrown out in November because a juror reported having been influenced by outside information. The case resumed after the legislative session concluded and was set to go to trial next week.

Prosecutors agreed with the defense that charging Reynolds again with felony barratry would have constituted double jeopardy. The allegations against Reynolds and facts of the case remain the same.

“After significant research on the issue we concluded going forward on the felony is barred by the double jeopardy,” said first assistant district attorney Phil Grant.

See here for all the past history. I’ll say what I said before: I’ve met Rep. Reynolds and I like him. He’s got a good voting record, and he’s been out front on issues like voting rights and reproductive freedom. On that score, we could do a lot worse. But this isn’t his first brush with barratry charges, and he’s got some baggage beyond that. I wish him well in his defense and regardless of what else happens I hope this is the last we ever hear of this sort of thing, but I think it’s time the voters in HD27 had another choice of who to represent them. Win or lose this particular fight, Rep. Reynolds needs to give some thought to calling it a career as a legislator. The Trib has more.

On being Ron Reynolds

Just because everyone’s out to get you doesn’t mean your behavior is above reproach.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

To hear Ron Reynolds tell it, the embattled state representative is just plain misunderstood.

Over the past decade, Reynolds has been sanctioned twice by the state bar, fined $10,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission, sued a half-dozen times and investigated twice for ambulance chasing -though he is quick to note he was indicted only once.

Three days after being re-elected to a third term earlier this month, the Missouri City legislator found himself facing possible jail time after a jury convicted him on the second of those lesser barratry charges. Three days later, the judge ruled it a mistrial. He is due back in court in January.

“It doesn’t define my character. It doesn’t define my work ethic. It doesn’t define my dedication to serving as a state representative,” Reynolds said with defiance in an interview last week. “I’ve made mistakes that I regret. I’m not a perfect person.”

Reynolds’ current ignominy is the latest in a record of ethics troubles that have plagued him since he first ran for office in 2008. Reynolds and his supporters contend those marks should not mar his reputation. Instead, they say, consider the job fairs he’s helped plan and the voters he’s helped register.


Reynolds was among eight Houston-area personal injury lawyers indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury, accused of working with a felon to steer accident victims to their law practices, an illegal practice known as barratry. Five of those lawyers have pleaded guilty or no contest to lesser misdemeanor offenses in exchange for fines or probated sentences. Two others are awaiting trial on the felony barratry charges.

A jury earlier this month found Reynolds guilty of six counts of misdemeanor solicitation of professional employment, a lesser barratry charge that could carry a short prison term. The judge later declared a mistrial after a juror confessed to being influenced by outside information about the case.

The judge last week issued a gag order barring any of those connected with the case from discussing it.

“This stuff is nothing new because it’s been played out by every opponent I’ve had,” Reynolds said. “The people who are demonizing me? They have an agenda.”

See my previous posts on Ron Reynolds for the background. I’m not demonizing and I have no agenda here. I like Rep. Reynolds as a person and I think he’s generally done a good job as a State Rep. He’s been out front of a lot of the hot button issues, which I appreciate. He’s also now been indicted twice for barratry, and as the story notes there have been questions about his ethics that go back to his first campaign in 2008. Some of that is just politics, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. Reynolds says he doesn’t want to be defined by these issues. It would help if he took more care to avoid them in the first place.

Reynolds’ convictions overturned

My head is spinning.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, will be back in a Montgomery County courtroom a week before the 2015 legislative session gets underway. The legislator, who just won his third term in office, is facing a new trial related to allegations of “ambulance chasing.”

On Monday, a judge declared a mistrial in the latest case against Reynolds, who was found guilty Friday of six misdemeanor counts of solicitation of professional employment.

Steve Jackson, one of Reynolds’ defense attorneys, said state district Judge Lisa Michalk granted a request for the mistrial because of a “juror experiencing what she said was outside influence that affected her saying ‘guilty.'”

Reynolds, a Houston-area personal injury attorney, was facing 10 felony counts of barratry. He is accused of illegally offering legal services to accident victims within 30 days of their incidents.

Reynolds has denied any wrongdoing, saying that the case against him has been a miscarriage of justice and that the charges were “selective prosecution by a very conservative delegation” in Montgomery County. “The only thing they wanted was me to do was resign my seat,” Reynolds said Monday in an interview.

Kelly Blackburn, the assistant Montgomery County district attorney trying Reynolds’ case, confirmed the mistrial and said that a new trial had been set for Jan. 5. He said the judge declared a mistrial based on a juror stating that the verdict was influenced by fellow jurors talking about “outside information” during deliberations. “All other 11 jurors denied this and stated that they reached their verdict based on the evidence that was submitted during the trial,” Blackburn said.

He said that his team is working to determine if it can legally retry Reynolds on felony barratry charges.

See here for the background. The Chron fills in some details.

Michalk declared a mistrial after the jury’s only African-American member, identified only as juror No. 2, told a bailiff that before the verdict was reached, another juror told her about plea deals accepted by five other Houston-area attorneys arrested in the same sting operation.

Juror No. 2 told Michalk that this information had influenced her decision, but she was unable to identify the juror who told her about the pleas.

Some of the 11 remaining jurors said they, too, had heard the remark about the plea deals, but not until after the verdict was rendered and before testimony was heard in the punishment phase. Reynolds faced a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $4,000 fine for his misdemeanor convictions.


Prosecutors contend the mistrial may open Reynolds to a possible felony conviction on the barratry charge again.

“We will all be researching it,” said Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant.

Kelly Blackburn, the lead prosecutor, called the mistrial an “unfortunate incident,” stressing that it had “nothing to do with the actual facts in the case.”

Geoff Corn, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law, said it was unusual to declare a mistrial after a verdict was reached.

Since a jury found Reynolds guilty of the misdemeanor, the jury had found that he was not guilty of felony barratry, Corn said.

“The prosecution had their chance,” he said, but didn’t meet the burden of proof required to convict.

“It’s going to be an interesting battle,” he said. “One of the things that most lawyers will tell you about double jeopardy is it’s so convoluted, you never know for sure.”

Years of watching Law & Order has not adequately prepared me for this. I wonder if there’s any precedent for the double jeopardy question. In any event, even if Rep. Reynolds avoids a redo on the felony charges, he’s still got more trouble than just the misdemeanors.

The State Bar of Texas’ civil case against Reynolds, alleging professional misconduct in connection to the barratry scheme, is set for trial to start on Dec. 15. A ruling against him could lead to his disbarment.

My suggestion to Rep. Reynolds stands. Good luck, but get your house in order.

Rep. Reynolds convicted of six misdemeanors

He actually got off easy since he was facing felony charges.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

A Montgomery County jury Friday found state Rep. Ron Reynolds guilty of six counts of misdemeanor solicitation of professional employment – a lesser charge than the felony barratry charge he faced.

Reynolds stood and stared straight ahead as state District Judge Lisa Michalk read the verdict. The case is now in the punishment phase, and will continue Monday morning, almost a week after the Missouri City Democrat was re-elected to a third House term.

Prosecutor Kelly Blackburn declined to comment, stating that the case is still ongoing.

Reynolds declined comment after his conviction, referring questions to his attorney, Vivian King.

“I am not happy with it because I still believe there was no intent. It should have been a ‘not guilty’ verdict,” King said.

Her client last fall was arrested in a sting operation along with seven other Houston-area attorneys. All were accused of participating in an “ambulance chasing for profit” scheme that revolved around a four-time felon, Robert Ramirez Valdez of Conroe.

Attorneys for Reynolds said Friday’s jury conviction of six counts of misdemeanor solicitation of professional employment would not bar him from continuing to serve on the state Legislature.

See here and here for the background. I like Rep. Reynolds personally, and he’s been good on the issues, but this is unacceptable. It’s not the first time he’s faced charges of this nature; the first time the case was dropped due to some problems with the lead investigator. As my high school band director used to say, once is a mistake and twice is a habit. This is a bad habit for any lawyer to have, let alone an elected representative. My advice to Rep. Reynolds would be to announce that this is his last term in office, then spend the extra time he will have after the spring getting his ethical affairs in order.

A constituent’s letter to Rep. Reynolds

I was forwarded the following email to Rep. Ron Reynolds:

Dear Representative Reynolds,

Rep. Ron Reynolds

I wanted to believe you when I voted for you in 2010 despite knowing that you had been sanctioned twice by the State Bar, and subsequently had your law license suspended. You said that you had made a mistake, and would do better.

Then in 2011, you were leveled massive fines from the Texas Ethics Commission for failure to file required financial disclosure reports. The state had to garnish your pay just to get you to pay those penalties back. This was in addition to the federal income tax liens placed on you and your law firm. You said that you had made a mistake, and would do better.

Then in 2012 you got arrested. Later that year you told me you attended your interim committee hearings. But those committee minutes showed that you never bothered to go. A few months ago you lied saying that you were the Democratic Whip “the second highest ranking position” in the House Democratic caucus. First, we know that the Whip is not the second highest ranking position. Second, you’re not even the Whip. You’re one of 14 Deputy Whips.

Now we’ve learned that you’ve just been arrested for very similar charges as those you faced last year. Your second arrest finally confirms for me that WE can do better. You can’t possibly do your job in Austin while fighting ongoing legal and ethical issues at home.

I respectfully ask that you resign your position immediately and take some time to get your affairs in order. The people in this district deserve representation we can trust.

A Missouri City, TX Constituent,

Elizabeth Lyles

This was sent after Rep. Reynolds recent arrest on barratry charges. It was also sent to the Fort Bend Independent, though I can’t link directly to it – use their silly magazine interface to go to page 4 to see the letter. If Ms. Lyles is not alone in how she feels, I think we can expect Rep. Reynolds to have some opposition in next year’s primary.

Rep. Reynolds indicted for barratry again


Rep. Ron Reynolds

Dozens of law enforcement officers simultaneously raided multiple law offices and two chiropractic clinics Monday morning for their alleged involvement in a kickback scheme to sign up clients, according to an I-Team review of court records.

In all, arrest warrants were issued for eight Houston-area lawyers, including State Representative Ron Reynolds. They are charged with barratry, commonly known as “ambulance chasing,” a third degree felony punishable by up to ten years in prison a $10,000 fine.

Reynolds and the other attorneys are accused of paying kickbacks to Robert Valdez, the alleged ringleader of the operation. Prosecutors said Valdez routinely scour accident reports, then approach and aggressively persuade crash victims to sign contracts for legal representation.

“We have information from a confidential informant, that Ron Reynolds delivered cash in envelopes to Mr. Valdez, in exchange for referring clients to him on numerous occasions,” said Phil Grant, First Assistant Montgomery County District Attorney.

Reynolds faced the same charge in Harris County last summer, but the case was dropped after the lead investigator faced some personal legal troubles that potentially tainted the case.

“It appears that Representative Reynolds stepped away from this organization during the period of time he was charged in Harris County,” Grant said.

“After his case was dismissed, it appears that he got right back in,” he said.

Montgomery County prosecutors picked up the case because Valdez is a resident, and a confidential informant there provided extensive documentation of the alleged scheme. Grant said records indicate a simple fender would fetch $600 in kickbacks, while a commercial vehicle accident commanded $6000 or more. Additionally, Valdez is accused of steering patients to two chiropractic clinics in Northeast Houston, which he partially owned.

“He was working both ends of the scheme,” Grant said. “He was getting kickbacks allegedly from the attorneys, but he was also making a lucrative amount of money from trumping up medical treatments for individuals who had been in car accidents.”

There’s video at that link, and there’s more from the Chron. As noted, the previous indictment against Rep. Reynolds was dropped in February after an investigator in the Harris County DA’s office that had been assigned to Reynolds’ case was arrested and charged with stealing collectible comic books that had been evidence in another case. The Harris County DA’s office has been eliminating evidence that had been discovered by that investigator and another that was arrested and dropping charges in cases where insufficient evidence remained; Rep. Reynolds’ case was the first to be dismissed because of this. Via his Facebook page, Rep. Reynolds put out this statement:

“This warrant and inquiry comes on the heels of my clearance from barratry charges in Harris County, and my office is fully cooperating with investigators regarding this matter as well,” said Rep. Reynolds. “I will fight diligently to prove my innocence.”

Strictly speaking, he wasn’t cleared – the charges were dismissed due to a lack of untainted evidence against him. Rep. Reynolds remains innocent until proven guilty, and I hope these charges turn out to be unfounded, but good Lord this looks bad. I’ve met Rep. Reynolds, I like him personally and I wish him luck in defending himself, but regardless of the outcome in this case, someone needs to provide the voters of HD27 an alternative choice in the next Democratic primary.

Rep. Reynolds busted for barratry

Oh, for crying out loud.

Rep. Ron Reynolds

State Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, was arrested Tuesday evening [for barratry, the unlawful solicitation of clients by lawyers] and posted $5,000 bail shortly after midnight. A former associate municipal judge for the City of Houston, Reynolds, 38, is a managing partner in the Bellaire law firm of Brown, Brown & Reynolds, as well as an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Harris County prosecutors say that Marcela Halmagean filed the complaint against Reynolds, alleging that he used a representative to solicit her as a prospective client after she was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Harris County. Halmagean is a Houston lawyer whose firm practices business, commercial and family law.

Texas law prohibits soliciting a client for legal services. Barratry is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Here’s his full statement via his Facebook page, in which he says “it appears that the charges filed against me are politicized” and that he maintains his innocence and will “vigorously” defend himself. All I can say is I hope he’s right. Until then, I expect he’ll have some explaining to do to constituents.