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Michigan Supreme Court justice to enter mental health treatment

Richard Bernstein
Richard Bernstein is a Democratic Party nominee who was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 2014. He was re-elected in November for a second eight-year term. (Courtesy photo)
  • MIchigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein said he is entering mental health treatment
  • Bernstein says he’ll work remotely when he can but will miss upcoming oral arguments
  • Chief Justice Beth Clement asks Michigan to respect his privacy

LANSING — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein said Tuesday he is struggling with mental health and is seeking care outside of the state. 

In a statement, Bernstein said he has “chosen to participate in short-term mental health treatment” in an unspecified location. He plans to review active Supreme Court cases remotely but will miss in-person oral arguments in a special session scheduled for next Wednesday in Cheboygan.


Bernstein did not specify what type of mental health issues he is facing, or how long he may be out of the state for treatment. He also did not specify whether his treatment will be inpatient or outpatient.


“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," Bernstein said. 

"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.”

John Nevin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Supreme Court, said he did not know any additional details about Berstein's mental health status or treatment plan beyond the statement.

In a statement of her own, Chief Justice Beth Clement said the Michigan Supreme Court is asking Michiganders to "join them in supporting Justice Bernstein and respecting his privacy, as he prioritizes his well-being.”

Fellow justices "look forward to him rejoining the Court in person in the coming weeks," Clement said. 

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania recently spent 44 days hospitalized to treat an episode of severe depression, a rare public admission by an elected official that some say signaled a new openness to talking publicly about mental health. 


Bernstein previously worked remotely from Dubai and Israel in early 2021 when the court was holding virtual oral arguments during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, he said it did not hinder his work. 

But with court sessions back in person, Bernstein's mental health break will cause him to miss at least one oral argument: An April 26 hearing in Cheboygan, where justices will consider an appeal application from a woman who is attempting to withdraw a guilty plea for armed robbery.

Bernstein, a Democratic Party nominee, was first elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 2014. He won re-election in November to a second-eight year term.

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