- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - The Michigan Supreme Court’s newest justice is at ease with Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. After all, Richard Bernstein is like family.

In fact, there’s Bernstein in the front row of a large photo at the Young family reunion in 2013.

“Little did I know,” Young told The Associated Press, “that he would be my colleague - as well as my cousin.”

Well, not exactly. But Bernstein was welcomed at the reunion as a guest of Cynthia Overton of Silver Spring, Maryland, his best friend and Young’s cousin.

The Young family gets together every few years, usually around July Fourth. The 2013 gathering drew roughly 50 people to a northern Virginia hotel.

“He participated in all of the events,” Young said. “We had a tour of Washington and so on. The last day is the banquet. We honor the lately departed and those with life achievements. Then we have a family portrait.

“It was unusual,” he said, “but our family has lots of people over the years who have been to family events.”

Bernstein is a Democrat, and his family’s law firm represents people who have been injured in car wrecks, slip-and-falls and medical malpractice. Young, a Republican with a strict interpretation of law, is not a favorite of plaintiffs’ lawyers.

Overton said she’s known Bernstein since the 1990s when they worked together on issues facing the disabled. Bernstein, who is blind, will be sworn into office on Jan. 1 after finishing second in a race for two Supreme Court seats.

“I wish I was in the legal profession so I could have a better appreciation for this,” Overton said. “They’re kind-spirited, nice and decent. Their perspective, their view, their approaches may be different, but I know them in the context as people.”

Bernstein, 41, said the reunion was “wonderful.” He describes Young, 63, as a warm, funny guy.

“His family refers to him as ‘Skipper,’” Bernstein said. “I call him ‘Chief’ and he calls me ‘cousin.’”

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Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

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