Barrientes Vela appeal moved back to Bexar County as court works through transcript issues

Texas 8th Court of Appeals says current records are not in compliance with rules on appeals

SAN ANTONIO – Ex-constable Michelle Barrientes Vela’s appeal of her felony convictions has been moved back to Bexar County temporarily while court reporters attempt to address issues with the written transcript of the case.

The one-time Precinct 2 constable, who left office in 2019 months before being indicted in a wide-sweeping public corruption case, briefly appeared in 226th Court Monday morning while Judge Velia Meza discussed the situation with the prosecution, Barrientes Vela’s appeal attorney and court reporters.

Barrientes Vela’s appeal, which is likely to be formally filed sometime next year, was moved from the Fourth Court of Appeals in San Antonio to the Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso as part of a docket reallocation.

The Eighth COA this summer notified Meza that the written record of the case was not in compliance with Texas rules on appeals and court reporters’ records.

Meza said she has set a Friday deadline to respond to the appeal’s court order to produce a master transcript of the case.

Barrientes Vela was indicted by a grand jury in January 2020 on charges ranging from tampering with records to official oppression and aggravated perjury.

The original judge assigned to her case, Judge Ron Rangel, recused himself in 2021 to avoid any appearance of conflicts.

Barrientes Vela had previously posted a picture of her and Rangel at a human trafficking conference.

Barrientes Vela’s case also had numerous hearings before and after her trial, including a failed motion to have District Attorney Joe Gonzales disqualified from prosecuting it and contempt of court hearings for Texas Ranger Bradley Freeman.

Multiple court reporters were assigned to the hearings, making it more difficult to compile a master transcript, court officials said Monday.

Barrientes Vela was convicted of two felony counts of felony tampering with records last September, after a high-profile trial that centered on her falsifying security payment logs at a West Side park.

She was sentenced in January to five years probation, 90 days in jail and 600 hours of community service.

Barrientes Vela does not have to serve her 90-day sentence while she appeals her conviction.

Meza in early March denied Barrientes Vela’s request for a new trial.

Barrientes Vela remains on community supervision through early January 2028, and to date, has abided by the conditions of her probation, court records show.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.

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