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The courtroom in the Putnam Supreme and County Court in Carmel is being renamed in memory of Judge James F. Reitz, who gained notoriety for instituting a Drug Treatment Court in Putnam County that provided residents with an innovative way to get a second chance in the judicial system.
A bill designating Room 301 in the courthouse as the Judge James F. Reitz Memorial Courtroom was unanimously approved in the state Senate last week after getting similar support earlier in the Assembly.
“Judge Reitz was a beloved figure, whose professionalism, integrity and compassion on and off the bench brought him renown from around the state,” said State Senator Pete Harckham (D). “His remarkable service to his community and love for his family stand as an example to us all, and I am very happy to know that his memory will live on in the Putnam Supreme and County Court.”
Reitz died in June 2019 in the courthouse from a heart attack at the age of 57.
A lifelong resident of Putnam County and graduate of Carmel High School, Reitz received a bachelor’s degree from Mercy College and then his J.D. from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1991 to 2006. In addition, he served as a Carmel Town Justice between 1996 and 2006 before winning election as a Putnam County Court Judge in 2007. Reitz also served as an Acting Justice with the New York State Supreme Court.
The drug court’s success made it a model for similar courts around the country, and was featured in an Emmy Award-winning documentary
“It is truly fitting that the courtroom in which he served be named in his honor as we remember a great man whose life was taken too soon,” said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R). “Judge Reitz was a remarkable human being who loved his family and loved his community. He dedicated himself to those in need and epitomized the slogan of ‘service above self.’”
Reitz’s wife Barbara was in attendance for the vote in the Senate.
“To name the courtroom in the Putnam Supreme and County Court for Jim, where he was one of the first judges to serve when it opened in 2008, is an honor for the people of Putnam County who loved him so much, and who are grateful his name will be there forever,” Barbara Reitz said. “This is such a wonderful way to commemorate someone with a love for life, second chances and kindnesses. I am thankful for the love and care that people have shown me—and the honoring of Jim’s spirit and legacy today has made me feel very blessed.”
Along with his wife, Judge Reitz is survived by his children Alyssa, Jaime and Michael, six grandchildren and numerous family members.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/