Thursday, September 23, 2021
A plea for delay in imposing final discipline after a felony conviction fell on deaf ears at the Mississippi Supreme Court
Richard L. Reynolds, a Mississippi licensed attorney, pled guilty to a felony on December 15, 2020, in a Texas federal court. The Mississippi Bar has filed its formal complaint seeking disbarment. Louisiana and Texas, where Reynolds is also barred, have disciplinary actions pending. Reynolds suggests that judicial economy dictates Mississippi await another jurisdiction’s decision. He asks that Mississippi defer until a final decision is made in Louisiana and that his discipline would be dependent upon what Louisiana decides. We decline and instead disbar Reynolds and revoke his license to practice law in this state.
...Reynolds is facing disciplinary action in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and possibly Texas. Reynolds argues that judicial economy would best be served by suspending these proceedings to allow Louisiana to determine the extent of his punishment related to a crime committed in Texas. This Court finds his argument not well taken
This Court applies Mississippi rules to the breach of Mississippi rules and imposes appropriate discipline based on Mississippi rules and procedure. M.R.D. 1. By asking this Court to delay action while awaiting another state’s decision only delays the inevitable. Our rules require disbarment. The discipline of disbarment “serves to help to preserve the dignity and reputation of the legal profession and also ensures protection of the public from such conduct.” Murphy, 675 So. 2d at 845 (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting In re Reinstatement of Baker, 649 So. 2d 850, 853 (Miss. 1995)). Judicial economy is not served by kicking the can down the road. Judicial economy and the people of this state would best be served by Reynolds’s immediate disbarment.
NBC DFW 5 reported on the crime
A federal judge in Dallas has sentenced an attorney to six months in federal prison for his role in the bribery scandal that spelled the end of Dallas County Schools, the agency that used to operate the school buses for Dallas ISD and a number of other local school districts.
New Orleans lawyer Richard Reynolds is the sixth person to be sentenced in connection with an FBI investigation into the financial collapse of DCS, a scandal first uncovered in a months-long NBC 5 investigation.
Reynolds admitted he used his law firm to help facilitate and conceal some of the bribe payments made by school bus camera company owner Robert Leonard to Dallas County schools superintendent Rick Sorrells. Leonard and Sorrells are currently serving seven-year terms in federal prison, for their roles in the scheme which involved more than $3 million dollars in bribes and kickbacks which Sorrells spent on items including a Maserati, jewelry, and a luxury New Orleans vacation apartment, where NBC 5 Investigates found Sorrells in 2017.
The scandal at DCS stretched all the way to Dallas City Hall, where Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway admitted taking $450,000 in bribes, some of that in exchange for a vote that allowed the DCS bus camera program to continue operating. Caraway is serving a four and a half year sentence.