Barring a final appeal to the Texas Supreme Court or his resignation, state Rep. Ron Reynolds might represent the people of District 27 for some — or all — of the 2019 session of the Legislature from a Montgomery County jail cell.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to review a misdemeanor conviction that brought a one-year sentence that Reynolds has been fighting for three years. Reynolds has 15 days to ask for a Supreme Court review, but a rejection by the appeals court makes that a near impossibility.
Reynolds, as The Texas Monitor reported, has given no indication that he intends to give up his seat in the Texas House. In the March 6 Democratic Primary, while awaiting word on his appeal, Reynolds dispatched opponent Wilvin Carter with 61.4 percent of the vote. He faces no Republican opponent in the Nov. 6 general election.
Contacts to Reynolds’ Austin office asking for comment were not returned.
Sec. 141.001 of the Texas Election Code allows for elected officials convicted of misdemeanors — but not felonies — to continue in office.
The state Board of Disciplinary Appeals, however, upheld the suspension of Reynolds’ law license. The State Bar of Texas directory says Reynolds is not eligible to practice in the state because his license was suspended for “disciplinary reasons.”
Reynolds is also in arrears to the state for $52,500 for a long list of failures to file legally required campaign finance reports, according to the most recent records kept by the Texas Ethics Commission. He is far and away the most fined delinquent on the list.
After his first session in 2011, the Texas Democratic Caucus named Reynolds their Freshman Legislator of the Year. The next year, however, he was charged with barratry, a term for illegally drumming up legal business. In Reynolds’ case, a marketing firm had been engaged to encourage chiropractors to direct their auto accident patients to Reynolds.
The barratry charges were dropped when two investigators for the Harris County District Attorney’s office compromised them, but Reynolds was charged again in 2013, while piling up more than $10,000 in Ethics Commission fines for failing to file campaign finance reports.
In 2013, Texas Monthly put Reynolds on its list of the worst legislators for that session.
A Montgomery County jury convicted Reynolds of five misdemeanor counts of illegally soliciting clients for his personal injury law practice in 2015. A judge sentenced him to a year in the county jail.
The state’s 8th Court of Appeals upheld his conviction in November of the following year, two months after Reynolds declared bankruptcy in the face of hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims made by former clients.
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected].