Firm News

Ex-DA Reyna joins Houston-based law firm in new Waco office

Abel Reyna, fresh off his post as McLennan County district attorney, has accepted a job in Waco with a Houston-based law firm that specializes in intellectual property.

Reyna’s future has been the subject of wide speculation since Barry Johnson defeated the two-term district attorney in the March Republican primary. Johnson took over the DA’s office from Reyna earlier this month.

In a news release announcing Reyna’s association, the Patterson + Sheridan firm, which calls itself an “IP law boutique,” said Reyna joining the firm as of counsel will continue the firm’s growth in intellectual property litigation, business litigation, criminal defense and government investigations.

Reyna, 46, will work out of the firm’s new Waco branch office on the fifth floor of the Texas Life Insurance Co. building, 900 Washington Ave.

“I’m excited about it,” Reyna said Monday. “It’s a good opportunity. I’ll still be doing criminal litigation, but also business litigation and IP and complex litigation in both federal and state court. Right now, it’s just me in that office, but the idea is we want to grow that office in Waco and establish a productive office here and establish ourselves as the go-to litigation office in Waco.”

Reyna said he is in the process of becoming licensed to practice in federal court.

The news release notes that Texas has seen significant growth in technology-based businesses, and one of the growth areas is the Western District of Texas, which includes Waco, Austin and San Antonio. Many companies from the east and west coasts have relocated to the Western District of Texas or expanded their businesses in the area.

The addition of Reyna, who the release says is well-known in the district and has significant trial experience, will build upon the expansion of the firm’s trial practice with experienced litigators John H. Barr, Jr. and Jay Yates, who joined the firm’s Houston office in August 2018, according to the release.

“With the addition of these outstanding attorneys, we are expanding our litigation practice to include not only intellectual property cases, but also general business litigation and white-collar criminal defense cases,” said Patterson + Sheridan founding partner B. Todd Patterson. “Abel Reyna had an extensive background in criminal defense work before he became district attorney. Abel also has a sincere dedication and commitment to Waco and McLennan County as represented by his family history and service to the community.”

Reyna’ father, Felipe Reyna, is a former district attorney and a former justice on Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals.

Reyna said he met Patterson through a mutual friend and said he was impressed with Patterson’s business plan and in-depth knowledge of intellectual property law, including patents and trademarks.

“What I love the most about Todd is his vision,” Reyna said. “He shares the same ideas that I do in that you are either going up or going down, there is no maintaining.”

Patterson + Sheridan LLP employs 80 attorneys and has eight offices in Houston, Dallas and now Waco, California, North Carolina, New Jersey and Japan.

Reyna and other former and current county, state and city of Waco officials remain defendants in lawsuits filed by 130 bikers who were arrested after the 2015 Twin Peaks shootout that left nine dead and 20 injured.

Reyna drew criticism for his handling of the chaotic melee, and it was a factor in his 20-point defeat by Johnson, a career civil attorney. Reyna pushed to arrest more than 200 bikers and had them placed under $1 million bonds each on identical charges regardless of whether they were directly involved in the assaults.

The civil rights lawsuits, which were filed in Austin, have been transferred to Waco’s new federal judge, Alan Albright, but it is unclear if the cases will be heard in Waco or Austin.

After his defeat, Reyna dismissed the cases against all but 28 of the original 155 indicted bikers. One of those was dismissed by special prosecutors, which also are handling three others.

Johnson said this week he is assembling a team to review how to proceed with the remaining Twin Peaks defendants.

Tommy Witherspoon

Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice.