In a joint session of the 20th Circuit and Hendry County courts. Scott H. Cupp, was invested as the seventh Hendry County judge since the county was created in 1923. With 20th Circuit Court Chief Justice Michael T. McHugh presiding, the ceremony took place in the LaBelle High School auditorium Friday, August 21 so the entire community could participate. Judge Cupp actually took the bench December 1, 2014, appointed by Gov. Scott to fill the vacancy left when long-time County Judge Jim Sloan was appointed to the Circuit Judgeship in Hendry County. Both men will be required to run for election to their respective positions in the 2016 election.
The Pittsburgh native has experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. He served as Chief of Crimes against Children Unit and Sex Crimes the State Attorney’s Office in Palm Beach County and in Fort Myers as Chief of Felony Division. In 2005 he became Assistant SAO and Office Head of the Hendry County SAO office in LaBelle.
As a defense attorney, he was in private practice in Fort Myers Hendry County and Palm Beach County. He feels his 17 years as a prosecutor and 10 as a defense attorney have given him better skills -and a better understanding that the system is legally bound to provide a vigorous defense as well as prosecution.
The county judge presides over all types of cases, such as landlord/tenant issues. So Judge Cupp said he is working hard to add to his knowledge of areas in the law he is less familiar with. “I just want to get this right,” he said. He has prosecuted several high profile criminal cases, worked with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on intake procedures and was an instructor for the National Association for the Prosecution of Child Abuse
State Attorney Steve Russell commended Judge Cupp’s intelligence, skill, energy and common sense. He added that Judge Cupp “Can see the forest and the trees and know which ones to cut.” He said he was an excellent trial lawyer who did a superb job for the SAO and will work hard to achieve “balanced and reasoned judgments.”
The judge’s children – daughter and lawyer Kaitlin E. Cupp, daughter Elizabeth who is a teacher and son Scott J. Cupp who is a student – were all there for him, Kaitlin taking the microphone to give the audience some daughterly insight into the new judge. Judge Cupp and Judge Joseph Marx of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County have been close since working at the SAO prosecuting child abuse cases. A family friend, he had also sworn Judge Cupp’s daughter Kaitlin in as an attorney. Judge Marx also swore his good friend in as Hendry County Judge. Judge Marx painted a portrait of his friend, whom he credits with a lot of experience prosecuting child abusers, his boss and mentor, recalling the case that changed his life – the death of a ten-year-old boy in Palm Beach County that, except for Scott Cupp’s insight and perseverance, would have passed for an accident. “It’s not about what’s easy or expedient, it’s about what’ s right, about justice,” he said, adding, “This community is lucky to have Scott.”
In his own remarks, an emotional new judge first recognized those who have been so important in his life and work, saying that his achievements have only been through faith, family and friends.