Ohio's First Black Supreme Court Justice Dies

Nov 2, 2012

Robert Morton Duncan, the first black justice to serve on the Ohio Supreme Court, has died. He was 85.

He served on the high court from 1969, when he was appointed by Gov. James A. Rhodes, until 1971, when President Nixon appointed him to the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. In 1974 Duncan was appointed to the federal court in Columbus where he decided that city's historic schools' desegregation cases. Duncan identified those cases as the most meaningful of his career because they secured equal educational access for black students. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said Duncan was an inspiration to a generation of Ohio lawyers and judges. Duncan, an Ohio State alum, also served several years on the university's board of trustees. He's survived by his wife, Shirley, and their three children.