A New York judge is in hot water this week after bragging about pulling a gun on a Black man who appeared in front of him in court.
On Thursday, the state’s judicial conduct commission ruled that judge Robert J. Putorti be removed from his position after pulling out a semi-automatic handgun on a Black defendant in the Whitehall Town Court in Washington County. After the incident, he bragged about it to his colleagues and friends for years.
According to Syracuse.com, the incident happened in late 2015 or early 2016 but wasn’t investigated until Putori boasted about his actions during a judge’s conference and then later to his supervising judge.
Putorti, who was the presiding judge over the case, agreed to a plea deal after the defendant admitted to attacking his wife and another man with a knife. Putorti also agreed to reduce the defendant’s fine to meet an amount the defendant could pay.
At a later court appearance, Putorti pulled out his legal handgun and pointed it at the defendant after he allegedly crossed a stop line in front of the judge’s bench.
The incident was largely forgotten about, but Putorti couldn’t leave it be. He later told his cousin, who was a college journalism student and bragged to his colleagues at a judge’s conference in 2018.
Putorti also lied to his colleagues saying that he feared for his life because of the size of the defendant. The judge described the defendant as a 6-foot, 9-inch “large Black man” who was built like a football player. But the commission found that the defendant was only 6 feet tall and 165 pounds.
The state commission voted 11-1 to recommend that Putorti be removed from office stating that his actions showed racial bias and that he has never shown any remorse for what he did.
“A courtroom is no place for a judge to brandish or point a gun at a litigant,” said a member of the commission.
The commission administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian also had some harsh words for judge Putorti.
“But for the fact that it happened in this case, it would otherwise be unfathomable for a judge to brandish a weapon in court, without provocation or justification,” he said. “To then brag about it repeatedly with irrelevant racial remarks is utterly indefensible and inimical to the role of a judge.”
The order for removal is binding unless the state’s high court reverses the commission’s vote.
Putori’s current term will expire in 2025.
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