Robert Cupp

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Robert Cupp
Court Information:
Ohio Supreme Court
Title:   Former Justice
Position:   Term commencing 1/2/2013
Active:   2006-2013
Past position:   Ohio Third District Court of Appeals Judge
Past term:   2000-2006
Personal History
Party:   Republican
Undergraduate:   Ohio Northern University, 1973
Law School:   Ohio Northern's Pettit College of Law, 1976
Candidate 2012:
Candidate for:  Supreme Court
State:  Ohio
Election information 2012:
Incumbent:  Yes
Election date:  November 6, 2012
Election vote:  47.48%DefeatedD

Robert R. Cupp was a justice on the Ohio Supreme Court. Cupp joined the court in 2006 and his term ended on January 1, 2013.[1]

2012 election

Cupp ran for re-election to the court in 2012. He was defeated by William O'Neill in the general election on November 6, receiving 47.48% of the vote.[2][3]

See also: Ohio judicial elections, 2012

Ohio State Bar Association ratings

In June and September, the Ohio State Bar Association rated Cupp as "Highly Recommended" according to eight criteria: legal knowledge and ability; professional competence; judicial temperament; integrity; diligence; health; personal responsibility; and public/community service.[4][5]



Cupp received his B.A. in political science from Ohio Northern University in 1973 and his law degree from Ohio Northern's Pettit College of Law in 1976.[1][6]


Prior to his election to the Ohio Supreme Court in November 2006, Robert R. Cupp served on the Ohio Third District Court of Appeals.[1] Prior to becoming a judge, Cupp served 16 years as a member of the Ohio Senate, from 1985 to 2000.

Before his election to the legislature, Bob served as a Lima City Prosecutor and Assistant Director of Law from 1976 to 1980. He served as Allen County Commissioner from 1981 to 1984 and 2001 to 2002. He also engaged in the private practice of law from 1983 to 2002.[1]

Awards and associations

  • Distinguished Service Award, Ohio State Bar Association
  • Robert E. Hughes Memorial Award, Ohio Association of Elected Officials
  • Past president, Black Swamp Area Boy Scout Council
  • Member, Lima County Rotary Club
  • Board of trustees, Higher Learning Commission, North Central Association[1]



Cupp defeated opponent Ben Espy, winning 53.22% of the vote.[7]

Campaign funding

From January 1 to October 4, 2006, Cupp raised twice as much ($777,426) as his opponent Ben Espy ($380,919).[8] The Partnership for Ohio’s Future, the affiliate of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, raised $1,291,500 and spent $1,285,140 on “electioneering communication.” These television advertisements praised Robert Cupp and Terrence O'Donnell. More than 60% of money spent on these ads was contributed to the Partnership by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce ($165,000) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($634,000). Insurance companies contributed an additional $405,000.

For a full list of Judge Cupp's campaign contributions, visit Follow The Money.

Notable cases

Arbino, 2007

The Ohio Supreme Court in December 2007 in Arbino v. Johnson & Johnson, upheld caps on damages in personal injury lawsuits in a 5-2 decision. The decision upheld a law approved by the legislature in 2004 that limited jury awards for pain and suffering, mental anguish and other non-economic damages to $350,000 unless the injured person lost a limb or bodily organ. The court also upheld a cap that limited punitive damages to twice the amount of damages awarded as compensation for injuries. Cupp agreed with the majority's opinion but wrote a separate concurrence.[9]

Death penalty, 2008

Clifton White III, who killed the mothers of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in 1995, cannot be executed because he is mentally retarded, the court ruled in an unanimous decision.[10] The court said White qualifies under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2002 that it is a violation of the Eighth Amendment for governments to execute mentally challenged inmates.

"The mentally retarded are not necessarily devoid of all adaptive skills," wrote Cupp in the court's decision. "Indeed, they may look relatively normal in some areas and have certain significant limitations in other areas. Mildly retarded persons can play sports, write, hold jobs, and drive. In this case, the trial court failed to set forth any rational basis grounded in the evidence for rejecting the uncontradicted testimony of two qualified expert witnesses in the field of psychology."[10]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Cupp received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of 0.88, indicating a conservative ideological leaning. This is more conservative than the average CF score of 0.62 that justices received in Ohio. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[11]

External links