Texas State Representative Ronald Reynolds seems to have gotten himself into a bit of trouble. The managing partner and former municipal judge was arrested late last month and charged with barratry.
Yep, that's spelled correctly. Barratry, it turns out, is just a fancy word for ambulance chasing. And in Texas, it's not just prohibited by legal ethics rules -- it's also flat out illegal.
In fact, it's such a widespread problem at the Harris County Courthouse near Houston, officials recently erected signs warning attorneys that barratry is a crime.
Rep. Ronald Reynolds, who is a frequent visitor at that courthouse, apparently paid those signs little attention. The legislator was caught soliciting potential clients soon after they had been in car accidents, Houston's KRIV-TV reports. He allegedly also found clients with the help of a local chiropractor.
Sketchy. And apparently not allowed. In Texas, attorneys aren't permitted to send unsolicited offers of representation until 31 days after the underlying incident. Or when they know the individual already has legal representation.
In addition to breaking these rules, the District Attorney has also accused Rep. Reynolds of tricking an undercover investigator he never met into signing an attorney-client agreement that gave him part of any settlement, reports Houston's KTRK-TV. "Any settlement" included insurance monies.
Now, to the most ridiculous part of the story. Rep Ronald Reynolds, who is also an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University, seriously should have known better. He voted for this very barratry law in 2011, according to KRIV.
- Houston-area lawmaker charged with barratry (The Associated Press)
- Lawyer's $2,500 Minimum Fee Earns Him 30-Day Suspension (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Ethics Tip No. 156: Don't Take Client's Money for Your Strip Club (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)