Monday, October 14, 2013

Justice Robert M. Duncan: Legal Trailblazer

Justice Robert M. Duncan
Portrait of the late Ohio Supreme Court
Justice Robert M. Duncan
Occasionally we are able to celebrate someone who has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many. Justice Robert M. Duncan was such a man. On October 10, in an official session of the Supreme Court of Ohio at the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, the late justice’s family presented to the court his life-like portrait by Toledo artist Leslie Adams.  

The dedication ceremony was very personal and inspiring and can be seen here in our video archive. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor noted that Justice Duncan was a man of many “firsts.” He was the first African American to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court, the first to win a seat in a statewide Ohio election and the first to be appointed to the federal bench in Ohio. He presided over the case that, in a legal first, ordered the desegregation of Columbus schools. He was a true legal pioneer, blazing a trail for others.

The speakers at the portrait dedication noted Justice Duncan’s illustrious public service career, his generosity, and his love of life. And his family spoke of him with moving devotion.  

Although he ended his judicial career in 1985, Justice Duncan continued to contribute to the legal profession and his community until his death in November of last year. Through his service on the bench and in the community, Justice Duncan was a model for all who aspire to public service. We will be reminded of him by his portrait, which will hang in the Moyer Judicial Center.

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