Portrait of Judge Robert Duncan, Supreme Court of Ohio

This portrait of the late Supreme Court of Ohio Justice Robert M. Duncan was dedicated on October 10, 2013 at the Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center. During an official session of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor remarked on Justice Duncan’s many firsts, including being the first African-American to serve on the court. “And history shows that Bob Duncan paved the way for others on this Court, in the legal profession, and in his community,” Chief Justice O’Connor said. Duncan was the 124th justice and served on the court from 1969 until 1971. His daughter Tracey Duncan Turner and other members of the Duncan family presented the portrait. “I think he would be overwhelmed with gratitude and I think he would feel very, very humbled and very, very honored to have this portrait installed in this court,” Duncan Turner commented after the ceremony. Speakers at the ceremony reflected on Justice Duncan’s legacy, including his 1977 decision while on the U.S. District Court in which he ordered Columbus City Schools desegregated. “His legacy includes the many minds and hearts he touched – people who continue to strive for his high standards, and help others as Bob Duncan helped them,” said attorney Alex Shumate, who served with Justice Duncan on The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. 

The Duncan portrait also brings to the Judicial Center part of the Supreme Court’s history. Justice Duncan served on the bench at the time when the Court was located on the second floor of the Senate Building (what is now the North Hearing Room for the Ohio Senate.) Although, the Supreme Court moved from the building in 1974, the original bench remains in the beautiful courtroom that was restored in the mid-1990s. The posthumous portrait shows Justice Duncan standing in front of the bench near to the chair in which he presided. He is holding one his favorite books, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations with both the State of Ohio flag and the United States flag behind him. Justice Duncan was also honored to serve on the United States District Federal Court in Ohio.

Justice Duncan died in 2012 at the age of 85. The portrait is installed on the first floor of the Chief Justice Moyer Ohio Judicial Center near to the Artist's portraits of Justice Frances Sweeney and Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer.