New York judge drew gun on accused in court: officials

A New York state judge drew a loaded handgun on a defendant — and later boasted about it, describing how he once pointed a firearm at a “large black man” in the courthouse, a state corrections officer claimed Thursday.

Robert J. Putorti, 52, a Whitehall judge since 2014, should be removed from the bench over the incident, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct said in a ruling.

The judge serving at Whitehall Town Court and Whitehall Village Courts took a semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at a defendant who posed no threat to him in early 2015, the commission said.

Putorti – who regularly kept a gun under his bench’s desk – then went on to gloat over the incident for his cousin, a journalism student at Hofstra, in an article titled “Carrying in the Courtroom,” written in Long Island report was published.

Judge Robert J. Putorti
The NY Commission on Judicial Conduct recommends removing Judge Robert Putorti from office for allegedly pointing a gun at a defendant in court.

In the article, Putorti said he pulled the gun out and pointed it at “someone” who came running towards him and said, “Woah, woah, woah, slow down,” according to the SCJC’s determination.

Putorti then boasted about having drawn his gun in court on several separate occasions in front of other judges, and described the defendant as an “excited” “tall black man” who was nearly six feet tall and “built like a soccer player,” the authorities said Commission .

And that’s despite the fact the man was just 6 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 165 pounds, the SCJC said, noting the judge had “exaggerated”. [the defendant’s] physical stature.”

While the judge is permitted to carry a concealed weapon on his bench, he cannot wield the firearm unless he believes someone else is using deadly force, the regulation said.

“Even though [Putorti] states that he subjectively feared for his safety when aiming his gun [the defendant]he now admits that he had no reasonable basis for believing that [the defendant] was about to use instant lethal force against him or anyone else,” the statement said. “Retrospective, [Putorti] admits he wasn’t allowed to wield his gun.”

Whitehall Municipal Court
Purtorti was a judge in the Upstate Town and Village Courts of Whitehall, New York.
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Putorti also told his cousin that he drew the gun and pointed it at someone who approached him while he was helping his late grandfather get his stolen car back, the commission said.

In April 2015, police officers saw the judge at a Virginia supermarket with a gun, but he was not arrested, according to the watchdog.

The SCJC filed charges against Putorti in June 2020 for the courthouse gun incident and another in January 2021 for allegedly fundraising for Elks Lodge, a fraternal order, at least seven times on his Facebook. It is forbidden to use his position as a judge to raise funds.

The commission found that Putorti’s behavior “demonstrated that he lacked the appropriate legal temper” and that “his actions irreparably undermined confidence in his ability to continue as a judge.”

Putorti has 30 days to either accept the decision or apply to the Court of Appeals for review.

“The courthouse is the place where threats or acts of gun violence are intended to be resolved, not generated,” SCJC Commissioner Robert Tembeckjian said in a statement. “But for the fact that it happened in this case, it would otherwise be unimaginable for a judge to brandish a gun in court without provocation or justification.”

“Then repeatedly bragging about it with irrelevant racist remarks is totally unjustifiable and detrimental to the role of a judge.”

Putorti’s attorney, Michael Root, told The Post: “We will not comment until the matter has been reviewed and a final decision has been made by the Court of Appeals.” New York judge drew gun on accused in court: officials


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