Native Pittsburgher Hugh McGough grew up on the border of Oakland and Shadyside, equidistant from the world-renowned Carnegie Museums and the bustling Centre Avenue business district. His father, Walter McGough, was an attorney in Pittsburgh for 50 years. His mother, Jane Fitzpatrick McGough, retired from teaching to raise her family. Together, his parents taught him to respect the law and work for justice.
After earning degrees from Columbia College and Northwestern University, Hugh worked as a journalist with WPXI and KDKA in the 1980s, covering the collapse of the steel industry, the trials and triumphs of organ transplantation, and the arrival of the AIDS epidemic. He worked his way through the University of Pittsburgh School of Law while producing KDKA’s Noon News with the late Bill and Patti Burns.
As a young attorney with the firm Meyer, Unkovic & Scott, Hugh fought a large insurance company to win health coverage for a child with a devastating medical condition. In 1998, he joined the City of Pittsburgh’s Solicitor’s Office to help the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police achieve reforms required by a consent decree that alleged a “pattern and practice” of misconduct by officers. Hugh also defended the constitutionality of Pittsburgh’s LGBT rights ordinance and an ordinance protecting union janitors from unfairly losing their jobs.
Hugh returned to the private sector in 2007, focusing on employment, municipal, and criminal law, though he continued to play a role in police reform and oversight, serving as solicitor for the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board. He was special counsel to UNITE HERE Local 57 and the Green Building Alliance. And he successfully defended Pittsburgh’s City Council president and three council members against a retaliatory lawsuit filed by Lamar Advertising due to their challenge of an improperly issued electronic billboard permit.
One of Hugh’s final cases before becoming a judge was a federal court “whistleblower” action to keep law enforcement officers safe from defective bullets sold nationwide by a leading ammunition manufacturer. The case recovered $300,000 for taxpayers.
Hugh was an early volunteer with the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, serving as board president and a pro bono attorney for people with AIDS/HIV. In 2008, he received the task force’s Founders’ Award for 20 years of volunteer service. Hugh has also volunteered with the East End Cooperative Ministry and the Animal Rescue League and is the former board president of the Gemini Children’s Theater in Point Breeze.
Since 2009, Hugh has served on the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission and was its chairperson for two years. The commission is a citizen-led group charged by law with promoting good relations among diverse residents of Allegheny County and investigating local allegations of illegal discrimination.
Hugh is married to Kris Rust, a public high school teacher and member of the Pennsylvania State Education Association.