Hopeful sign: Judge remains upbeat on the road to recovery


– Photo by Paul Janczewski

In a file photo, U.S. District Judge Terrance Berg is pictured in his Flint office, where he has been based since he joined the federal bench.

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

In terms of buoying his spirits, the recent “Walk for Hope” may have sped the healing process for U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg as he continues to recover from a gunshot wound suffered during an aborted robbery attempt outside his Detroit home March 5.

“It was very heartening to see such a show of solidarity,” Berg said the week after the April 3 peace rally that drew hundreds of friends and supporters to Gesu Catholic Church in the city’s University District on Good Friday evening. “I am deeply grateful to the organizers for doing such a great job and for all those who turned out to march against violence. The signs that the
marchers held were wonderful, so perfectly written, that they truly drove home a message for all to see.”

Berg, in turn, delivered a speech at the rally that all in the greater Detroit community needed to hear. It centered on the need for understanding the root causes of gun violence and for mapping a battle plan to combat it (see full text of his speech in today's edition—Show of solidarity: A shooting victim, judge seeks end to 'scourge of gun violence').

“The people need work to rise out of poverty and find a hopeful future,” Berg said in his Good Friday remarks. “As long as there is no work, Detroit will continue to suffer from a high crime rate.”

Berg, who earned his bachelor and law degrees from Georgetown University, is a native of Detroit, and has made his home in the University District for nearly three decades.

“I believe in this city and its people, and my family and I are convinced that there is great hope for its future if we pull together to help solve problems,” Berg said. “It starts in each neighborhood and we are incredibly fortunate to live among friends and neighbors who have the city’s best interests at heart.”

In particular, Berg said that the Gesu Catholic Parish has been a “godsend” and a “major reason” that he holds such hope for Detroit.

“Gesu has been a focal point of our life for years and our three children attended school there,” Berg said. “We believe in its mission and in its outreach programs for the poor and disadvantaged. It is a shining example of what this city and this community can be.”

Since he was shot last month by, as yet, two unidentified gunmen, Berg has undergone two major surgeries to help reconstruct his right leg. The FBI has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the two men involved in the shooting, which took place outside Berg’s home on the evening of March 5.

“The bullet pierced my leg a few inches above my right knee, shattering the bottom part of the femur,” Berg said. “In the next few weeks, I will have the metal bars that run vertically down my leg removed and screws will be inserted in their place to help stabilize the leg. Then, I hope to begin rehab treatments where I will be able to bend my leg again and to start putting weight on it. The doctors have said that sometime down the road, in the next couple of years, I will probably need knee replacement surgery.”

In the meantime, Berg continues to work from home, “reviewing and writing decisions” and issuing judicial “orders” as he eyes a return to full courtroom duties in the months ahead.

“I am indebted to my staff and colleagues on the bench for pitching in for me while I have been recovering,” Berg said. “Their support and their willingness to help out have been amazing, to say the least.”