Last Tuesday Representative Reynolds won his election against Republican opponent David Hamilton, but the following morning he was in court facing ten felony counts of barratry, also known as ambulance chasing. Though he was not found guilty on the felony charges, he was found guilty on six misdemeanor charges which carried a maximum $4,000 fine and potentially a year in jail.
The Missouri City Democrat was arrested last fall in a sting operation along with several other attorneys in Montgomery and Harris counties. The scheme revolved around the chiropractic office of Robert Valdez who has since been convicted. Valdez solicited individuals whose accident reports were found on the Houston Police Department’s website, and referred them to the attorneys involved.
This isn’t the first time Reynolds lucked out when it was time to face his actions. In February of 2013 he had a barratry case dismissed in Harris County after a lead investigator faced charges for her actions on an unrelated case.
On Monday morning, District Judge Lisa Michalk called upon each juror independently to see if they had based their decision on outside influence. The poll came after a juror said there was discussion of the pleas of other attorneys facing the same charges in directly related cases. Judge Michalk also addressed concerns that there was a racial slur used in reference to Reynolds in the women’s restroom at the courthouse, when asked, all female jurors denied hearing the comment.
After being polled, one juror admitted to being influenced by outside information leading Reynolds’ team to call for a mistrial. Michalk, hesitant to declare, considered calling an alternate juror, but eventually succumbed to the wishes of Reynolds’ legal team.
Although Rep. Reynold’s team was granted their request, there is a chance he will be re-tried on the felony charges. Attorneys representing Reynolds said that the next trial date would most likely be in March of 2015.