Upstate New York judge, 57, dies after suffering heart attack in courtroom: 'I need you to help me'

Upstate New York judge, 57, dies after suffering heart attack in courtroom: 'I need you to help me'

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

57-year-old Putnam County Court Judge James Reitz was in the courtroom on Friday when he fell ill while he was handling a family law issue.

Court officers performed CPR and used a defibrillator but were unable to revive him. Reitz died shortly after he arrived at the hospital, court system spokesman Lucian Calfen told Associated Press. 

According to the New York Law Journal, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said his last words to the court officer were "John, I think I need you to help me." Odell revealed that Reitz had carried out one case and then he asked the court officer to help him.

Reitz, who hails from Mahopac, had been a county judge since 2007. He was also an acting justice with the state Supreme Court. Reitz previously used to work as a lawyer in private practice. 

In a Facebook post, State Senator Terrence Murphy called Reitz the 'ultimate public servant' and even praised his drug court program. "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," he wrote. 

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

Reitz was elected as the Putnam County Court Judge in 2007 and was re-elected again in 2016. In 1986, he graduated from Mercy College and in 1989 he earned his law degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, according to the Daily Voice.


Robert L. Langley, Jr. the Putnam County Sheriff also paid tribute to Reitz. "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. 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," he added.

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


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 Upstate New York judge suffers fatal heart attack on the bench