Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein says he's seeking short-term mental health treatment outside of Michigan "while working remotely on active cases. "
"I will not be joining the rest of the Court for its Oral Argument special session, scheduled for April 26, 2023, in Cheboygan," he said in a statement issued Tuesday. "The trust and confidence that the people of the State of Michigan place in me to serve in this role means so much to me."
"At the same time, I appreciate the opportunity to temporarily step out of the courtroom to focus on my mental health. During this time, I will continue working remotely on all active cases. I encourage everyone who struggles to seek the help they need."
Chief Justice Elizabeth Clement issied a statement:
"The Court asks the people of Michigan to join them in supporting Justice Bernstein and respecting his privacy, as he prioritizes his wellbeing. We look forward to him rejoining the Court in person in the coming weeks."
Bernstein, 46, who is first blind person to be elected to the court, was re-eelcted last year to an eight-year term. He came from the law firm headed by his father Sam Bernstein.
He stirred up controversy earlier this year after he publicly criticized fellow Justice Kyra Harris Bolden after she hired a law clerk, Pete Martel, 48, who had served 14 years in prison for robbing a store and firing shots at police officers. Martel was paroled in 2008 and earned a degree from Wayne State University’s law school. Bernstein said he thought someone who shot at an officer should not hold that position. Shortly after, Martel voluntarily stepped down.
Bernstein later apologized publicly to Justice Harris and Martel, saying he had made a mistake by taking that stance.
He subsequentally tried to turn his lesson into a positive, reaching out to members in the community and talking about the importance of second chances.
Bernstein has traveled the world advocating for rights for the disabled.
In 2021, Bernstein was invited by the United Arab Emirates royalty to help draft policy for disabilities in the Middle East in conjunction with the Abraham Accords, a peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, Morocco and Bharain, which came to fruition at the tail end of the Trump administration.
In April, he went to Israel to finish working on policy while continuing to do his Supreme Court work.