Blind state Supreme Court justice drives for first time

GENESEE Co., Mich. (WNEM) – Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein can now say he’s driven a car thanks to a local sheriff.

An “insane” wish that became a reality for Justice Bernstein who has been blind since birth.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson helped him take a spin at the Genesee County Fairgrounds Tuesday, under controlled circumstances, in front of dozens of spectators.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Justice Bernstein said. “I’ve always wanted that feeling of what it’s like to hit the gas or what it’s like to turn on the ignition and what it’s like to operate a steering wheel.”

For the justice, driving a car was something he never thought he would be able to do.

But after having a conversation with Sheriff Swanson a year ago and explaining how much he wanted to drive, the sheriff went to work to make it happen.

“I’ve always loved taking care of people, that’s the bottom line,” Swanson said. “It sounds cliche, but my whole life, I’ve loved making people’s dreams come true. I love seeing joy on the face and I have seen it the last two hours driving him up here.”

Now that Justice Bernstein has driven a car for the first time, he has a message for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, “I really need my driver’s license.”

Checking off another item on his bucket list also meant raising money for two causes.

Sheriff Swanson also made a personal donation of $1,000 to Whaley Children’s Center and Voices for Children. ( (

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