Pathways to the Bench: U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. Gould

The following program was produced by
the United States courts. Our society does better when we draw on the
strengths that everyone has to offer. As long as a person will concentrate on
what it is that they can do, rather than what they can’t do, they can get an awful
lot done. When I was in law practice I was diagnosed with MS. I had some anxiety
or fear or what if my client doesn’t like that I’m in a wheelchair because I
wasn’t when they hired. So I raised that with general counseling and he
dispelled my anxieties in a second. He just basically said, no problem we didn’t
hire you to run the 440. And I continued on that case and did well for them. I got
involved in bigger cases. I got to be President of the State Bar. At every turn
I just told myself it’s better to keep going, to try to find a way to adapt to the
problem and rather than giving in to it. As a judge when my right hand stopped
working I started teaching myself to take notes with my left hand, and that’s
how I operated on the court In my first several years. When my left hand stopped
working then I decided I could use voice recognition software ,or I could have an
assistant to type up notes as I dictated them. Now throughout all this what I
found was I could continue to work. I was able to hire superstar law clerks and
I’ve hired people with disabilities and I’m able to get a good result in the
work I’m doing. George Gould I can see you all clearly
and I can hear you. Having significant disability reminds
you that everybody has problems and everybody has to adapt to them.
In my case it’s just a more visible problem lots of people have problems
that you can’t see, something that holds them back. If they just work out a way to
accommodate their problems and focus on what they’re able to do, they can get a
lot accomplished. They should never give up. I think if somebody’s enthusiastic
about what they want to accomplish, if they have a passion for, they have a
chance of achieving it. Every day I say to myself I can adapt and carry on
because I can.


  1. As an artist with MS, I am encouraged by the Judge's word. I struggle to make the artwork that I have in the past because of MS cognitive issues and depression – the "invisible" problems Judge Gould mentioned. His strength, dedication and acceptance encourages me to persevere with the abilities I have now. Thank you, Judge Gould, for your inspiration. I wish you much peace.

  2. I have known Ron since High School.  He is amazing in his determination to not let Multiple Sclerosis stop him from doing his job.  He is an great example of not giving up and continuing to excel in his chosen career. I am proud to call Judge Gould my friend.


  3. I attended High School with Ron.  It is good he shared his successful philosophy and it was good to see him in the video.  Neal Handler

  4. Judge Gould was a classmate of mine in high school in University City, Missouri.
    Ron was always a stand-up guy… the expression takes on ironic interpretation these days.
    This piece presents his solid gold character and significant presence and strength.
    I had my lower leg amputated three and a half years ago.
    I strive to present myself with acknowledged acceptance of my disabilty and  represent the future of the disabled  population by volunteering, mentoring, writing, and public presence.
    Ron is an inspiration to me.
    I will forward this wonderful piece to others.
    I am proud to know Judge Gould.
    I will try to be as strong as he is.
    With gratitude and deep affection for Ron and his accomplishments and to his family
    at home and on the bench.
    Love and respect.
    David Pactor
    San Francisco
    [email protected]

  5. Thank you your Honor.  I am a California attorney adapting-not giving into-MS. In addition to practicing law I am also a patient advocate, serving as a Trustee for my local NMSS chapter,supporting education and research at UC Irvine Stem Cell Research Laboratory and California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM),  MS has given me greater compassion, gratitude and determination to live purposefully.

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