An upstate New York judge is dead after suffering a heart attack on the bench.
Putnam County Court Judge James Reitz died Friday morning, according to a statement from Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, who said she was “deeply saddened” by the news.
Speaking to CNN, Odell said Reitz collapsed in the courtroom right after wrapping up a case.
A court officer then came to his aid, performing CPR on the 57-year-old judge until he was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.
Odell called Reitz “a cherished member” of the court and “the beloved husband” of a former longtime county employee, Barbara Reitz.
State Sen. Terrence Murphy (R) paid tribute to the judge in a Facebook post that afternoon, remembering him as “the ultimate public servant” and “a true friend.”
“Putnam County lost a giant today,” Murphy wrote. “In my life I have met few people of greater character, loyalty and dedication than Judge James Reitz.”
Murphy also praised Reitz’s treatment court program, stating that it “should be a model for New York State.”
The program focuses on rehabilitating drug users through a variety of means including mental health resources, social services and professionals who specialize in treating addiction. The point, according to the county’s website, is to break the cycles of substance abuse and crime. Individuals may choose to participate in the program to avoid incarceration for drug and alcohol offenses.
According to state records, Reitz served as the Carmel town justice from 1996 to 2006 before taking his seat on the bench of Putnam County Court in 2007.