Judge speaks out on controversial conversations between DA’s office and Wren Collective

Judge Ron Rangel surprised and concerned by remarks made about judges

SAN ANTONIO – The conversations between the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office and a criminal justice reform group continue to raise concerns.

On Friday, the most senior criminal district court judge in Bexar County called the conversations troubling.

“It was a little surprising to me that anybody would take such direction from an outside group,” said 379th District Court Judge Ron Rangel. “A group that doesn’t understand Bexar County, the citizens of Bexar County, and the way things work in this community.”

KSAT has released portions of the conversations where policy and high-profile cases were discussed between First Assistant District Attorney Christian Henricksen and Wren Collective founder Jessica Brand.

They also discussed meetings between the DA’s office and local judges.

In one conversation from Feb. 2019, Brand says, “I heard the judges meeting on bail went poorly.”

Henricksen, in part, responded, “It was frustrating. They are resistant to change. I also think that they don’t fully understand the law on this issue. I never expected them to be helpful.”

A month later in March 2019, Brand reached out to Henricksen and texted, “Are the judges any better or would it be helpful if some real justice PAC volunteers started calling?”

“So many conversations that they may have had about judges not doing certain things is completely inaccurate, and it comes from an area of lack of understanding as to what was happening at that time,” Rangel said. “The judges that we have are experienced. They’ve all been here a very long time. At that time, that administration had just come in. So to make some sort of indication that the judges were not on board with something is based on a lack of information.”

There were also exchanges about specific cases, including the case of Otis McKane, who was convicted of murdering San Antonio Police Detective Benjamin Marconi.

Rangel, who presided over McKane’s trial, said he is concerned about messages that referenced that case.

“Judges are never allowed to influence in any way the public and how those cases are looked at,” Rangel said “It is troubling that these kind of cases would be discussed in that type of manner.”

As of now, Rangel said the DA has not reached out to him since the relationship with the Wren Collective was made public.

“That would be a nice thing to do at this point in time,” Rangel said. “We want to make sure the cases are tried with integrity, and that cases are effective enough to where folks in the community feel confidence that the result of all these cases that we handle have been worked out and looked at in an appropriate way.”

We continue to reach out to the Wren Collective and have not been able to get ahold of anyone by phone or email.

Friday morning, we reached out to the DA’s Office by email requesting an interview with Henricksen and have yet to hear back as well.


Sheriff Salazar distances himself from DA Gonzales after Wren Collective conversations become public

‘Very concerning’: Former prosecutor exposes troubling discussions between DA’s office, Wren Collective

Take a closer look at the conversations between Bexar County DA’s Office & criminal justice reform group

What we know about the Wren Collective

Criminal justice reform group wields significant influence on DA Joe Gonzales, text records show

KSAT Q&A: Joe Gonzales discusses SAPOA allegations, work with criminal justice reform group

Political interest groups having greater influence on criminal justice leaders, law expert says

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

Recommended Videos