FORT BEND COUNTY, TX-- These days, crowdfunding campaigns pop up for everything. But helping out convicted criminals?! That's gotta be illegal, right?
Not if you're State Representative Ron Reynolds.
As a lawyer, he was convicted November 24th for misdemeanor barratry. That's "ambulance chasing" or paying someone (in this case, multiple felon Robert Valdez) to seek out accident victims as clients within 30 days of the accident. Valdez claimed Reynolds paid him a grand per new client.
Reynolds says that is a lie. He was so sure the jury would see that, he represented himself in court...a mistake, Reynolds says, in hindsight. "I don't know if it would have made a difference if I had (legal legends) Dick DeGuerin or Rusty Hardin," he says, "The facts were the facts, and the facts were no one said I had knowledge of any (wrongdoing)."
But the jury still found him guilty. He believes they decided with their heart and not their heads, "They're looking at their common sense and their common sense says, 'we don't like politicians. They're liars... These are guys that will tell us anything. They're trained to do that.'"
During sentencing in this misdemeanor case, the court paraded Reynolds in shackles and black-and-white striped prison garb with two armed guards, Hannibal Lecter-style. "It was a walk of shame.They wanted to shame me and really put me in my place."
The judge went so far as to ban the politician from practicing law for a year. Another miscarriage of justice, Reynolds says. "Any time an attorney's license is taken away, it has to go before the State Bar of Texas. And so the judge doesn't have the ability to unilaterally take away my ability to practice law."
Reynolds has already filed appeal, and friends convinced to start a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the process. "It could cost me anywhere at a minimum of $25,000 all the way up to $75,000 to $100,000," laments Reynolds. So far the campaign has raised just $1420.
Reynolds says friends and family encouraged him to take a plea bargain on this case, but says he couldn't do it in good conscience, "I don't think an innocent man should ever take a plea for something they didn't do."