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Richard Bernstein

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, a downtown Birmingham resident, complained about a hiring decision made by fellow Justice Kyra Bolden Harris who put on the payroll as her clerk Pete Martel, who had done 14 years in prison for a 1994 convenience store robbery and for shooting at police. Although Bernstein said he supported rehabilitation of those who were incarcerated, his honor objected to anyone who had shot at police from being part of the Supreme Court organization, despite Martel having gotten a law degree, was working on his Ph.D. and time spent working in the State Appellate Defender Office. When Bernstein’s complaint went public, Martel quit his court job. Both supporters of Bernstein and activists in support of prisoner rehab took his honor to task, forcing Bernstein to rethink  his position and apologize to both Justice and Martel. But that has not satisfied critics of Bernstein, who had just been reelected to a new eight-year term on the state highest court. No word from Justice Harris of Southfield, who was appointed to the court to fill a vacancy after coming in third in the November election during which she and Bernstein had appeared in campaign commercials together.



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