A Southwest Florida circuit judge will go before the state Supreme Court for a public reprimand after an investigation into his support for a candidate in a Hendry County judicial election.
The Supreme Court on Thursday approved an agreement that called for Circuit Judge Scott Cupp to receive the reprimand. The agreement, known as a stipulation, was reached by Cupp and the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, which investigates misconduct by judges.
An order from the Supreme Court said Cupp has acknowledged that his conduct was inappropriate and violated judicial canons.
“He regrets that his conduct damaged the integrity of the judiciary and the public’s perception of the judiciary,” the unanimous order said. “Judge Cupp has had no prior discipline imposed by the commission, and, having been licensed to practice law for over 34 years, also has no prior disciplinary history with The Florida Bar.”
The investigation centered on Cupp’s election support for Richard Sullivan, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Hendry County Judge Darrell Hill last year. Documents filed at the Supreme Court said Cupp called numerous people in Hendry County to encourage support for Sullivan, including after an administrative judge expressed concerns about ethical implications of Cupp’s involvement in the race.
“(The Judicial Qualifications Commission) finds that while Judge Cupp’s actions may have begun with private expressions of his views, the scope and spread of his contacts and his personal endorsement of Mr. Sullivan became publicly known through his own actions, creating the clear outward appearance that he was attempting to influence the campaign,” one of the documents said.
The investigative panel also found that Cupp did not follow proper procedures in filing to run for re-election for his own judicial seat in 2020.
Cupp is a judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties. Thursday’s order did not set a date for the reprimand.