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NY Judge Fired For Pointing Gun At Black Man In Court

In 2015, the unthinkable happened: an upstate New York Judge pointed a loaded handgun at a Black man.

Gavel

According to the Associated Press, that judge is now removed from office by the state’s highest court.


Who was it? It was Justice Robert J. Putorti, who was a Whitehall Town and Village Court Judge.


And according to an independent review by the New York State Court of Appeals, he continually emphasized the race and stature of the litigant when recounting the episode, even sometimes boastfully. Putorti had said he pointed the gun at the man “because he approached the stand too quickly," crossing a stop line for litigants.


Putorti, in one instance, described the defendant to another judge as 6-foot-9 and “built like a football player.” But in reality, he was just 6 feet (183 cm) and 165 pounds (75 kg), the decision noted.


So, the high court confirmed “the state Commission on Judicial Conduct’s removal of Putorti,” noting the former judge’s description of the defendant “exploited a classic and common racist trope that Back men are inherently threatening or dangerous, exhibiting bias or, at least, implicit bias.”


Additionally, Putorti’s lack of remorse following the gun incident contributed to his removal, according to the decision.


He also participated in prohibited fundraising events that benefited the Elks Lodge, where he also held office, which transpired when he was under investigation for the gun episode.


Yes, the fundraising did not warrant removal, but the timing and the fact that it happened while Putorti was under investigation showed “an unwillingness or inability to abide by the Rules of Judicial Conduct,” the decision noted.


“It is indefensible and inimical to the role of a judge to brandish a loaded weapon in court, without provocation or justification, then brag about it repeatedly with irrelevant racial remarks, Robert H. Tembeckjian, administrator for the state’s Commission on Judicial Conduct, said in a statement. “The Court’s ruling today makes clear that there is no place on the bench for one who behaves this way.”


The process actually started last year though, when the New York State Court of Appeals ordered Putorti to be suspended with pay effective immediately, according to cbs6albany.com.


Photo Credit: DepositPhotos.com

1 Comment


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