57-Year-Old New York Judge Suffers Heart Attack On the Bench and Dies at Hospital After Court Officers Were Unable to Resuscitate Him

Putnam County Court Judge James Reitz, 57, (pictured), suffered a heart attack in court and died while he was handling a family law court matter

An eminent New York judge died after he suffered a heart attack on the bench, officials said.

Putnam County Court Judge James Reitz, 57, fell ill in court on June 14 while he was handling a family law court matter.

Court officers were unable to revive him after performing CPR and using a defibrillator in an attempt to resuscitate him.

Court system spokesman Lucian Calfen told Associated Press that Reitz died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

It was unclear Friday whether the judge had health issues in recent years.

The New York Law Journal reported that a Legal Aid attorney and a lawyer for children were in the courtroom when it occurred.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said that Reitz had carried out one case and then asked a court officer for help, according to what she heard about what happened.

‘He said, “John, I think I need you to help me,” Odell told the New York Law Journal.

Reitz, a resident of Mahopac, had been a county judge since 2007 and was also an acting justice with the state Supreme Court. He previously worked as a lawyer in private practice.

State Senator Terrence Murphy called Reitz the ‘ultimate public servant’ in a Facebook post and praised his drug court program.

On Facebook he wrote: ‘Putnam County lost a giant today. In my life I have met few people of greater character, loyalty and dedication than Judge James Reitz.

‘His Drug Court Program, which will be his legacy as a public servant, should be a model for New York State.

‘My heart goes out to all who had the privilege of knowing him, and of course, his incredible wife Barbara. Rest easy my friend.’

Reitz was subsequently elected as the Putnam County Court Judge in 2007 and was re-elected in 2016.

He graduated from Mercy College in 1986 and earned his law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1989, the Daily Voice reported.

Putnam County Sheriff Robert L. Langley, Jr. also paid tribute to the deceased judge. He said: ‘Judge Reitz was a man who changed people’s lives through his passion for the drug court in which he always had the support and active participation of members from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

‘We could go on endlessly on Judge Reitz’s accomplishments and passion for serving his community not only as Judge but as a friend to many.’

He claimed his passing was a ‘tremendous loss’ for the community and he will be missed by many.

He added: ‘On a personal note I am proud to say Judge Reitz was more than a Judge to me, he was a friend who I respected and admired.

‘Rest in peace Jim. Your passing will be felt by many. May his memory be a blessing.’

People who came before him in the courtroom paid tribute to him on Twitter, claiming he was always fair and good.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Leah McDonald