Professor Randolph McLaughlin Biography
Professor: School of Law
As early in life as he can remember, Randolph McLaughlin wanted to make things better. A child of the turbulent 1960's, but too young to be directly involved, he watched the civil rights marches on television and saw the arrests of the Freedom Riders and the young people who sat-in at segregated lunch counters. And, time after time, he saw dedicated lawyers stepping forward, putting their careers, and sometimes their lives, on the line to defend the rights of courageous people who wanted only for America to become a better place for everyone. While still a child, Professor McLaughlin made a personal decision to become one of those lawyers.
After four years of undergraduate work at Columbia University, Professor McLaughlin was admitted to Harvard Law School. Upon graduation from law school in 1978, while most of his fellow students took advantage of their hard earned Harvard credentials to begin lucrative careers in private practice at the largest and most prestigious law firms in the country, Randolph McLaughlin joined the staff of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City and began to live the dream that he had when he was still a child. For eight years he worked side by side with the renowned civil rights attorney William Kunstler fighting for the rights of activists and the communities across the country.
One of Professor McLaughlin's first major law suits was against the Chattanooga branch of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He represented five African-American women in an action seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief under the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. These women had been brutally shot by Klan members as they walked home from work in Chattanooga. The women were awarded $535,000 in damages, and the Court issued an injunction against further Klan violence.
Since that first successful battle against the Klan, Professor McLaughlin has never looked back. In 1991, after he filed a voting rights challenge to the election of New Rochelle’s City Council, the city changed its method of electing council members. As a result of his work in New Rochelle, the African-American community has had representatives of their choice on the council. He successfully sued the Town of Hempstead, N.Y., in 1988 to eliminate the at-large election of Town Board members. In 1997, a federal judge agreed with Professor McLaughlin that the election system used in the Town violated the Voting Rights Act. In 1997, Professor McLaughlin agreed to represent the family of Charles Campbell who had been killed during a dispute over a parking space in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. The shooter, an off-duty New York City police officer, was subsequently convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to a prison term of twenty years to life. Professor McLaughlin filed suit against the shooter and his alleged accomplices, and won a $5 million dollar verdict in federal court
Professor McLaughlin recognized early that as important as it is to fight for social justice, it is essential that the next generation of public interest lawyers be encouraged and trained. In 1988 he joined the staff at Pace University School of Law where he began to teach Civil Procedure, Labor Law, Civil Rights Law and Civil Rights Litigation. His talent as teacher proved to be the equal of his talent as a litigator when, in 1992, he was honored as the Outstanding Professor of the Year.
In 1997, Professor McLaughlin became the director of the first Social Justice Center at Pace University School of Law. Through this law center Professor McLaughlin taught young lawyers and law students by example. Under his leadership, the Social Justice Center and its cooperating attorneys and interns engaged in both national and local federal litigation to address a broad range of human rights issues, including, racial and gender discrimination, housing discrimination, police misconduct, and voting rights violations. Under his leadership, the Social Justice Center received grants from the Ford Foundation to conduct community meetings around issues of police misconduct, racial profiling, and voting rights. After a police shooting in Ossining, New York, Professor McLaughlin and the Social Justice Center attorneys and interns worked to address long standing issues between the police and the community. As a result of his work, the Village of Ossining established a police-community review board that would review complaints of misconduct. This board was unique in that members of the community and the police served jointly.
Professor McLaughlin continues to litigate landmark cases both locally and nationally with the firm of Newman Ferrara LLP in New York City. He has served as a consultant to police departments exploring how to address issues of racial profiling. Additionally, he has served as Special Counsel to the City of New Rochelle in connection with the redistricting of the City Council after the release of the 2010 Census. Professor McLaughlin also serves as counsel to Cesar Ruiz, who along with the United States Department of Justice, challenged under the Voting Rights Act the at-large election of the board of trustees of the Village of Port Chester, New York. As a result of the litigation, the Village Board is now elected under a cumulative voting system. Professor McLaughlin is also litigating, under the Fair Housing Act, a class action against the City of Yonkers in connection with an affordable housing development in that city. Professor McLaughlin also represents Warren Glover in an employment discrimination case against the National Basketball Association (“NBA”). In the suit, Mr. Glover alleges that he was retaliated against by the NBA for reporting to his superiors’ allegations of gender discrimination and harassment.