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Richard Bernstein back on Michigan State Court bench after depression 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 returns to the bench after a month-long mental health treatment
  • Bernstein reveals Tuesday he was struggling with ‘situational depression’
  • The justice worked on cases remotely but missed six oral arguments scheduled for mid-May

LANSING — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein is returning to the bench in person this week after a month-long mental health treatment for depression.

Bernstein announced the short-term mental health treatment in April but did not offer specifics on his condition or treatment.

In a Tuesday statement, Bernstein revealed he was struggling with “situational depression,” a type of short-term depression often caused by a traumatic event.

“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,” he said Tuesday.

“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.”



In April, Bernstein said he would work remotely to review active Supreme Court cases while receiving the treatment. 

His absence from the bench caused him to miss six in-person arguments scheduled for May 10, state Supreme Court spokesperson John Nevin told Bridge Michigan.


Bernstein’s public statement about depression marks a rare move by elected officials to acknowledge their mental health challenges. U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, announced a 44-day leave in mid-February to receive treatment for severe depression.

Bernstein is a Democratic Party nominee who was first elected to the bench in 2014. He was re-elected in November for a second eight-year term.

The 48-year-old is a former member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors and was a disability-rights attorney at his family’s Farmington Hills law firm. He is the first blind justice elected to the state’s high court.

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