MISSOURI CITY, TX
(Dec. 2, 2015) -- Today, State Rep. Ron Reynolds (D - Missouri City HD 27), announced he will hold a community forum and press conference at 6:30 p.m., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, in the courtroom of Judge Joel Clouser located at 303 Texas Parkway, Missouri City, TX 77489. During the press conference, Rep Reynolds will openly discuss the injustice he experienced in Conroe, TX, located in Montgomery County, where he was falsely convicted on the charges of misdemeanor barratry.
On Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, Rep. Reynolds was found guilty of five counts of misdemeanor barratry, solicitation of professional employment, and sentenced to the maximum allowable sentence -- one year in jail and a fine of $4,000.
The law states that it is illegal for a licensed attorney to knowingly permit another person to contact anyone involved in an accident within 31 days of the accident for the purpose of gaining business.
Rep. Reynolds has always maintained his innocence against the barratry charges. Each of the seven other lawyers also accused of the same charges accepted a plea deal to lessen the legal ramifications. "I chose to put my trust and faith in God. I believe I will be fully exonerated as I am innocent of the charges," said Rep. Reynolds.
"As one holding a position of public trust and having gratitude to my electorate for me to serve them in Austin and at home in our community, I felt compelled to stand trial and have a verdict delivered on the merits," he continued.
"My experience has highlighted the fact that African-Americans, regardless of their economic disposition, are not immune to racial bias in the legal system. I was elected by the people and I plan to continue being a fierce advocate for change and reforms to the criminal justice system," said Rep. Reynolds.
The trial was held in Montgomery County Court at Law No. 4. Montgomery County is 80 percent Republican, 84 percent Anglo and has an African-American population of 4.3 percent.
Montgomery County has a history of wrongfully convicting African-Americans including the famous case of Clarence Brandley, which inspired the movie "Whitewash: The Clarence Brandley Story."
"In 2015, it's a crying shame that discrimination still takes place. 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," said Rep. Reynolds.
Rep. Reynolds was convicted in Montgomery County despite all of the witnesses and evidence which proved he had no knowledge of the unlawful solicitation operation of Robert Valdez and his ex-wife Crystal Valdez, who ran the operation out of his home in Conroe.
Robert Valdez, a seven-time convicted felon, admitted on cross examination that Rep. Reynolds was not aware of the operation. Crystal Valdez, Robert Valdez's own brother Jesse Valdez, along with his business partner John Park also testified that Rep. Reynolds was not aware Valdez was soliciting cases. Finally, all of the investigators including Texas Rangers admitted on cross examination that they found no evidence to suggest that Rep. Reynolds was aware.
"Robert Valdez is a habitual felon that cut a deal with the District Attorney to avoid spending 25 years to life in prison. The evidence showed that he is not a credible witness and was simply about self-preservation. Once the court transcript is available, the public will see how the evidence showed that the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office invested significant financial resources into this case, collaborating with the Texas Rangers, DPS, FBI, and Conroe Police Department, even conducting undercover operations, only to come up empty," said Rep. Reynolds.
After sentencing, attorney Harold Dutton immediately filed a notice of appeal and asked the trial judge to set an appeal bond. However, the judge stated that she could not proceed with the appeal bond hearing because she had let her staff leave and was unable to determine the court fees. The judge set the hearing for 1 p.m., the following day.
In regards to the delayed hearing, Rep. Reynolds shared, "As a result, I was taken into custody at the Montgomery County jail. When I returned to court the following day, I was placed in handcuffs, had shackles on my feet and was in a prison uniform. In other words, they wanted for me to look like a hard core criminal convicted of an egregious felony. I believe this was a modern-day lynching. They went after me so severely, attacking my character."
"Instead of the case being based only on the facts, I was singled out because of my status as an African-American elected official," said Rep. Reynolds. "The District Attorney's office wasn't going to let the facts get in the way of a high profile case. Quite simply, I was a victim of selective prosecution and racial bias."
"This experience has echoed the fact that hundreds of thousands of African-American black males and other ethnic minorities face similar circumstances each and every day. Unfortunately, many victims are ensnared in the criminal justice system because they lack the knowledge and resources for costly criminal defenses. I am all the more resolved to speak truth to power and be a voice for those unable to seek justice."
"During the 84th Legislative Session, I sponsored and helped pass criminal justice reforms including the Body Camera bill, Truancy Reform bill and Grand Jury reform. During the next session, I plan to re-file my Special Prosecutor bill and also file legislation to make it more difficult for prosecutors to bring frivolous claims against people without any recourse. As elected officials, we have to be good stewards of the public's trust."
"I want my constituents and supporters to know that their support over the years has been a great source of strength for me in fighting the false charges I have faced. Even though I'm innocent of the charges filed against me, I am an imperfect man, and I thank each individual supporter for standing with me in spite of that and for understanding the love my family and I have for serving you and working to better our community. I will continue to fight for each of my constituents with all of my God given time, talent and treasures."
State representative Ron Reynolds represents Texas House District 27, which encompasses communities of Fort Bend County. Rep. Reynolds currently serves as the Democratic Whip of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and a member of the House Committees on Elections, and Environmental Regulations. During his first legislative session, he was voted by his House colleagues as "Freshman Legislator of the Year" and "Public Servant of the Year" by the Houston Minority Contractors Association. Rep. Reynolds is seeking his fourth term in the Texas House of Representatives.