Richard Bernstein, 41, was sworn in January 1 to an eight-year term with Michigan’s Supreme Court.
He is the first blind judge to sit on the Court. Nationwide, other prominent blind judges include Judge David Tatel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Missouri Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Teitelman
Bernstein is a well-known personal injury attorney in southeastern Michigan. He spent more than $1.8 million in campaign advertising during the judicial election in November, where he ran on the slogan “Blind Justice.”
Bernstein, who has been blind since birth, has been preparing for his first oral arguments since the election, which are set for January 13.
“We do use technology but technology can only take you so far,” Bernstein told the Associated Press. “I internalize the cases word for word, pretty much commit them primarily by memory. I’m asking the reader to pinpoint certain things, read footnotes, look at the legislative record.”
For Bernstein, his disability provides him a variety of advantages.
“It would be much easier if I could read and write like everyone else, but that’s not how I was created,” Bernstein told the AP. “No question, it requires a lot more work, but the flip side is it requires you to operate at the highest level of preparedness…This is what I’ve done my entire life. This goes all the way back to grade school for me.”
He is one of two Democrats on the seven-member Court.