Judges appointed to St. Joseph Superior, Terre Haute City Court benches

A St. Joseph County magistrate has been appointed to the St. Joseph Superior Court bench, the governor’s office announced this month. A judge has also been appointed to the Terre Haute City Court.

Cristal Brisco has been selected to succeed St. Joseph Superior Judge Margot Reagan, who retired May 31. In Terre Haute, lawyer Kenneth McVey has been named the City Court judge.

Brisco has been a magistrate judge in St. Joseph County since 2018. Before that, she worked for Barnes & Thornburg LLP, the city of South Bend and Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame.

Admitted to the Indiana bar in 2006, Brisco holds a J.D. from Notre Dame Law School and an undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University.

Brisco was one of five candidates named as finalists to succeed Reagan. The other finalists included magistrates Keith Doi, Andre Gammage and Julie Verheye and lawyer Stephanie Nemeth. The finalists were selected by the St. Joseph Superior Court Judicial Nominating Commission, which interviewed the candidates to succeed Reagan in April.

Notably, the five finalists were voted on by only five members of the St. Joseph JNC, which is statutorily comprised of seven members. Two were disqualified after a JNC member filed a lawsuit claiming certain commission members were ineligible to serve.

Now, however, the JNC in St. Joseph County, as well as Lake County, is operating under an amended statute. Those commissions are set at seven members — not a change for St. Joe but down from nine members in Lake County — and the composition of the commissions has changed.

Under House Enrolled Act 1453, the governor appoints three members of each panel while county commissioners appoint another three. A justice of the Indiana Supreme Court — Justice Geoffrey Slaughter in St. Joseph County and Justice Mark Massa in Lake County — will chair the commissions and cast tie-breaking votes.

The legislation was widely opposed and did not have the support of the local bench or bar associations in the northern Indiana counties. But the bill progressed through the General Assembly, with Rep. Mike Aylesworth, its author, describing the legislation as a “reset” of judicial selection in the two counties.

Brisco was named a judge June 3. The same day, Holcomb appointed McVey to the Terre Haute City Court.

McVey has been an attorney with Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin since 2008, specializing in Social Security disability law. He previously worked in the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office in the child support and criminal divisions.

McVey holds an undergraduate degree from Indiana State University and a law degree from Case Western Reserve Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 2003.

Both Brisco and McVey will be sworn in on dates to be determined.

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