Justice Richard H. Bernstein, of the Michigan Supreme Court, speaks in Richmond on Nov. 17. (photo from Chabad Richmond)
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard H. Bernstein will speak at the Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel in Richmond on Nov. 17. The event, co-hosted by Chabad Richmond and the Jewish Learning Institute, is called Blind Justice.
“It will feature the inspiring life story and remarkable achievements of this brilliant, blind justice who has overcome countless challenges,” said Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman, director of Chabad Richmond. “Aside from his many legal accomplishments, Justice Bernstein has run 23 marathons and completed an Ironman triathlon, the Israman triathlon’s half Ironman in Eilat.”
Blind since birth, Bernstein became the first blind justice elected to the Michigan Supreme Court in 2014. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan, he earned his juris doctorate from Northwestern University School of Law. Even prior to becoming a justice, while working as an attorney for the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, he was known for being an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
Bernstein’s cases often set national standards protecting people’s rights and safety. He successfully partnered with the United States Department of Justice to force the City of Detroit to instal wheelchair lifts in city buses, establishing a precedent for accessibility in public transportation. In a landmark settlement against Delta Airlines and Detroit Metro Airport, Bernstein gained accessibility for travelers with disabilities, helping set the standard by which airlines and airports are to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
Bernstein also challenged the City of New York to make Central Park and all parks safer for visitors and accessible for individuals with disabilities, including those with visual impairments. This came after he sustained a serious injury in 2012, when he was struck by a speeding cyclist while walking in Central Park.
The justice’s honours include Michiganian of the Year from the Detroit News; one of Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40; and recognition by CNN as a leader in keeping government honest. He was selected by the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan as the 2003-2004 Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyer Award recipient for exceptional commitment to public service, and is the recipient of the 2008 John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award from the State Bar of Michigan, in recognition of his leadership as an advocate and activist.
Michigan Lawyers Weekly named Bernstein a 2009 Leader in the Law and the University of Michigan presented him with the James T. Neubacher Award in 2011, for his commitment to equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. Also in 2011, L. Brooks Patterson, Michigan’s Oakland county executive, selected Bernstein as one of the region’s Elite 40 Under 40. In 2013, Bernstein was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
On Nov. 17, Blind Justice starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door, and $15 for students; the cost for preferred seating is $40 and the VIP meet-and-greet is $180 per couple. To register or for information, call 604-277-6427 or email [email protected].