UPDATE 5/23/23 3:45 p.m.
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein says he is returning to work after seeking mental health treatment last month. In a statement, he said:
“I am delighted to return this week to the Hall of Justice to resume my in-person duties as a Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court. I want to express my deepest thanks and appreciation for the support of my family, friends, and colleagues as I sought treatment for situational depression. It is my sincere hope that by talking about these issues in the open, free from any needless stigma, we can move closer to a day when anyone struggling can avail themselves of the same quality care I was blessed to receive.
“Serving on the Michigan Supreme Court is the honor of my life, and I am humbled each day by the opportunity to serve with colleagues committed to upholding the rule of law. I want to thank them for the grace, patience, and compassion they have each shown me these past several weeks, and I look forward to our continued service together.”
4/18/23 4:20 p.m.
DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan Supreme Court justice announced Tuesday that he is getting mental health treatment outside the state and will not hear a case next week.
“I encourage everyone who struggles to seek the help they need,” Richard Bernstein said in a statement released by the court.
Bernstein, who is blind, has been a justice since 2015 and was reelected last November to another eight-year term.
He caused controversy in January when he publicly criticized Justice Kyra Harris Bolden for hiring a law clerk who had turned his life around after serving 14 years in prison for robbing a store and shooting at police officers.
Bernstein, 48, said he was “disgusted” by the hiring. But after a backlash, Bernstein apologized and said he regretted his remarks. Bolden’s clerk, Pete Martel, resigned.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case in Cheboygan on April 26.
“I appreciate the opportunity to temporarily step out of the courtroom to focus on my mental health,” Bernstein said. “During this time, I will continue working remotely on all active cases.”
Bernstein did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press seeking additional comment.
“We look forward to him rejoining the court in person in the coming weeks,” Chief Justice Elizabeth Clement said.
Bernstein comes from a well-known family in Michigan’s legal community, name recognition that helped get him elected in 2014. The Sam Bernstein law firm is a major TV advertiser in the Detroit area.
In 2021, Bernstein took the unusual step of spending months in United Arab Emirates and Israel. He said his goal was to inspire people while talking about his life as a blind lawyer and judge.
The Supreme Court at the time was hearing cases by video conference because of COVID-19. Bernstein participated from overseas and said he was able to keep up with other court work, too.