Filemon Bartolome Vela Jr. (born February 13, 1963) is an American lawyer and politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 34th congressional district since 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Vela was born in Harlingen, Texas and raised in Brownsville, Texas. His father, Filemon Bartolome Vela Sr., was a long-serving United States federal judge. The Reynaldo G. Garza-Filemon B. Vela United States Courthouse in Brownsville is named in Judge Vela’s honor. His mother, Blanca Sanchez Vela, served as Brownsville’s first female mayor from 1999 to 2003.
Filemon attended Saint Joseph Academy in Brownsville, Texas, and went on to graduate from Georgetown University in 1985. During his time at Georgetown, he served as an intern at the Federal Judicial Center – the research and education agency of the federal judicial system. He also served as an intern in Congressman Solomon P Ortiz’s Washington, D.C. office. Vela earned his J.D. from University of Texas at Austin School of Law in 1987.
For more than 20 years, Filemon practiced law in South Texas, as a plaintiff attorney. His legal practice focused on complex civil litigation. As a trial attorney, Filemon successfully represented clients who were the victims of racial discrimination, consumers who had been severely injured by defective products, and employees injured during work.
Some notable cases include Earl Shinhoster v. Ford Motor Company, in which Vela represented the family of deceased Director of the NAACP who was killed in a car rollover accident in what was the largest wrongful death settlements in Alabama history, and Robert Trevino v. Walmart, in which Vela represented a group of American farm workers who were told they could not shop in a Mississippi store.
Vela also represented several South Texas school districts. In Edinburg School District v. Landmark, Vela represented Edinburg to fight for more funding. In Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District v. Landmark, he represented the district in fighting contractors accused of building a poorly constructed school facility.
- Location Texas
- Listing categories House of Representatives, Political Representatives
437 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515