May 30, 2024

The Honorable Langston McKinney passed away on May 20, 2024. The ARRIBA committee is saddened by the loss of Judge McKinney as a beloved member and pillar of the Syracuse legal community as well as one of ARRIBA’s biggest cheerleaders when we first formed this subcommittee of the PRBA. Judge McKinney leaves behind a legacy of impactful accomplishments guided by a commitment to promoting diversity and equity in the legal arena. A legacy that resonates deeply with the ARRIBA committee.

The Honorable Judge McKinney’s Legacy:

Judge McKinney was born and raised in Miami, FL. He attended Howard University earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. After attending Howard University, Judge McKinney’s life became a blueprint, a series of “firsts,” that paved the way for future generations and inspired those around him.

After attending Howard University in 1965, he was recruited as the first Black scientist in the Research and Development Division at Carrier Corporation in Syracuse.

In 1968, when he attended Syracuse University College of Law he was only one of four Black students in attendance. Together with his classmates, he co-founded the SU Chapter of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council enabling him to help Albany, Georgia residents fight voter suppression.

After graduating law school, he co-founded Maye, McKinney & Melchor, the first Black-owned law firm in Syracuse to advocate for tenants’ rights.

In 1986, Judge McKinney became Syracuse’s first African American city judge when he was appointed to replace retiring Judge Mathilde Bersani. McKinney would go on to win three elections- 1987, 1997, 2007, and retired in 2010.

He was a founding member of the William Herbert Johnson Minority Bar Association.

On the bench, McKinney developed the Syracuse Community Treatment Court to provide treatment to defendant drug abusers facing nonviolent crimes as an alternative to jail.

Just to name a few…or several if we’re getting technical.

Judge McKinney leaves an indelible mark on the Syracuse legal community and the ARRIBA subcommittee. To quote a City of Syracuse article about him, “Judge McKinney is famously known for saying that justice is not contained to the courtroom but is a community effort. It is an effort that is both long-lasting in the heart of the city and in the heart of its residents.”

We thank him for his dedication to this shared mission and hope that he knows just how much his support and work within the community inspired the ARRIBA subcommittee. May he rest in peace.