The Fordham Law community is deeply saddened by the death of former Fordham Law Professor and Dean Hon. Joseph M. McLaughlin ’59. Judge McLaughlin died on August 8, 2013. He was 80.
Judge McLaughlin will be remembered at Fordham for his superb classroom teaching skills combined with brilliant case analysis and the lightning humor he displayed throughout his entire career: as a dedicated and beloved professor, a sagacious dean, and an accomplished federal judge. He was a prolific writer and earned a distinguished reputation for his published legal scholarship on the law of evidence and civil procedure. His publications include Weinstein’s Evidence, New York and Federal Rules of Evidence, and a monthly column in the New York Law Journalcalled “Trial Practice.”
A 1954 graduate of Fordham College, McLaughlin entered Fordham Law School after service in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Fordham Law Review and on the School’s National Moot Court Team. After graduating from Fordham Law in 1959, he joined the firm of Cahill, Gordon & Reindel and then returned to Fordham two years later where he began teaching Evidence and New York Practice.
“Studying New York Practice can be like reading the phone book; it’s exceedingly boring. Judge McLaughlin made the phone book sing,” said Robert J. Reilly ’75, Assistant Dean for the Feerick Center for Social Justice. “He had the ability to make subtle distinctions crystal clear and would drive home his points with delicious humor.”
In 1971, Judge McLaughlin was appointed Dean of Fordham Law. During his ten-year deanship, he made a number of important contributions to the Law School, including augmenting the faculty with more women and professors from outside the Fordham community. In his first year alone he increased the number of faculty from 20 to 25. He hired some of Fordham Law’s first female professors, including Lucille Buell ’47 and Sheila Birnbaum and also hired to the faculty the current Dean, Michael M. Martin.
As Dean, Judge McLaughlin played an important role in establishing the Law School Annual Fund, which allowed Fordham Law to have for the first time its own fundraising program within Fordham University.
“Judge McLaughlin has deservedly earned a place in the pantheon of Fordham Law greats,” said former Dean John D. Feerick ’61, Founder and Senior Director of the Feerick Center. “His influence on the Law School was as big as his personality. Fordham Law has lost a magnificent friend and alumnus. He was a mentor and role model for me.”
Among his numerous achievements, Judge McLaughlin revivified the Fordham Law Alumni Association and expanded and modernized the Law School’s academic curriculum. TheFordham Urban Law Journal and the Fordham International Law Journal were also established during his tenure. Serving as Dean at a particularly challenging economic time, Judge McLaughlin helped the School weather financial difficulties. He continued to teach both day and evening classes during his deanship.
“Judge McLaughlin’s impact on the history of Fordham Law cannot be overstated,” said Dean Michael M. Martin. “A passionate teacher, a confident and clear-sighted leader of the Law School, and of course an astute judge—he played so many roles in the legal profession, and he worked with such vivacity and joy. He will be missed by the entire Fordham Law community.”
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Judge McLaughlin to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York where he served for almost a decade. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush nominated Judge McLaughlin for elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 1998 he assumed senior status. Until his retirement, Judge McLaughlin was one of four Fordham Law alumni serving as a federal judge at the U.S. court of appeals level.
Judge McLaughlin wrote more than 800 opinions during his time on the bench. Some of his noteworthy rulings include United States v. Mulheren, United States v. Acosta, and Karibian v. Columbia University. In judicial evaluations, lawyers consistently described him as fair, unbiased, and evenhanded in his rulings.
Judge McLaughlin is survived by his wife Frances, his three sons Andrew (FCRH ’97), Joseph ’88, and Matthew ’94, and his daughter Mary Jo (FCRH ’82, GSAS ’84), his daughters-in-law, son-in-law, sister Angela, and 13 grandchildren.
The wake will be held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, 1076 Madison Avenue at East 81st Street, on Saturday and Sunday, August 10 and 11, at 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. both days. The funeral mass will be held at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, 980 Park Avenue, on Monday, August 12 at 10 a.m. The Reverend Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President of Fordham University, will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial.