Morin speaks about being only Spanish-speaking attorney in Nacogdoches County

By John Cleveland reporter@dailysentinel.com | Posted: Sunday, July 21, 2013 9:19 pm

Reynaldo P Morin

Reynaldo P. Morin, Attorney at Law

Nacogdoches attorney Reynaldo Morin has worn many hats in his years as a lawyer. Originally from San Antonio, Morin served for several years as a federal prosecutor before becoming a defense attorney, his native Spanish language skills a definite advantage for his clients, he said.

Communication between a lawyer and a client is essential.

Both must be on the same page for the judicial process to function properly. Unfortunately, many Texans facing prosecution don’t get the opportunity to speak directly to their representation in court.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12.31 percent of the population in Texas spoke only Spanish in 2012. That’s more than 2.3 million people who may have to use an interpreter while seeking legal council.

Spanish speakers in Nacogdoches County, however, finally have a defense attorney who can get the whole story from his clients without the details becoming lost in translation. As the only Spanish-speaking attorney here, Reynaldo Morin offers a unique opportunity to defendants who need direct conversation.

"These people need to talk in confidence," Morin said. "They’re not going to open up to an interpreter, especially in cases of a sexual nature. Often times, scheduling is difficult between the attorney, defendant and interpreter."

Though being bilingual is an asset for Morin, he offers more than smooth conversation to his clients. As a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Department of Justice, he has helped prosecute almost every type of criminal case, including drug offenses, immigration cases, bank robberies, cyber crimes and white-collar crimes. While working for the Department of Justice, Morin received training in forensics and working with confidential informants.

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Merida Initiative into law in an effort to bring down corruption in Mexico and Central America. Hundreds of U.S. government officials and millions of dollars were sent to Mexico to help loosen the cartels’ grip on the legal system in that country. Morin was sent to Mexico City to help train Mexican federal investigators.

"Their system was full of corruption," Morin said. "Though everyone that worked for their government was smart and qualified, they had no concept of the forensic chain of custody or how to give an opening statement."

Morin said it was like developing a new legal system from scratch.

"We basically amended their jurisprudence to make it more like the U.S.," Morin said. "It was more accusatory than inquisitive."

Morin said his background in prosecution makes him a better defense attorney.

"I know both sides of each case," Morin said. "I know what’s legal evidence and what isn’t. I’ve got a great foundation, and got all the training I needed while working with the Justice Department."

Morin is the son of migrant farm workers. He was born and raised in San Antonio, and his parents spoke no English while he was growing up.

"I remember watching novellas with my mother," Morin said. "I had 10 brothers and sisters."

He said he learned a good chunk of the English language by the first grade. After graduating from John Jay High School in San Antonio, he went to St. Mary’s University, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts in history, cum laude, in 1990. In 1993, he received his juris doctorate from Marquette University Law School.

"Going to Marquette, which is in Wisconsin, was kind of like my trip to Europe," Morin said.

After graduating, Morin worked as an assistant district attorney for the 81st Judicial District Attorney’s Office from May 1994 to April 2000. As an ADA, he prosecuted murders, drug offenses, aggravated assaults, driving while intoxicated, burglaries, robberies cases and numerous other violations of the Texas Penal Code.

Morin said he has enjoyed the transition from prosecution to defense.

"The transition hasn’t been difficult," Morin said. "I love what I’m doing. I have a love for the law, for the decorum of the courtroom."

Morin’s accolades include the Exceptional Service Award from the National Association of Former United States Attorneys in August 2012, the Chief of Police Commendation from the Houston Police Department in November 1995, and the Inspector General Integrity Award from the Department of Health and Human Services in August 2004.

The Morin law office is at 320 North Street, #308 in downtown Nacogdoches.