Albany, NY – Two weeks ago, on New York State Senator Pete Harckham successfully passed legislation dedicating a courtroom in the Putnam Supreme and County Court after Putnam County Court Judge James F. Reitz, and earlier this week on Monday, May 23rd Assemblyman Byrne passed it through the Assembly Chamber without opposition.
Byrne & Harckham’s bill (A.8456 / S.8170) designates Room 301 in the Putnam Supreme and County Court as the “Judge James F. Reitz Memorial Courtroom.” Judge Reitz passed away in the courthouse from a heart attack at the age of 57 in June 2019. His wife Barbara Reitz was in attendance for the vote in the Senate and was able to watch the legislation pass in the Assembly remotely.
“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 Byrne. “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.’ Senator Harckham and I introduced this legislation to celebrate Judge Reitz’s legacy, and I look forward to continuing to work to make this legislation become law.”
“Judge Reitz was a beloved figure, whose professionalism, integrity and compassion on and off the bench brought him renown from around the state,” said in an earlier release Harckham. “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.”
A lifelong resident of Putnam County and graduate of Carmel High School, Judge 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. One of his many achievements included instituting his own Drug Treatment Court in Putnam County, which gave residents an innovative way to get a second chance in the judicial system. The drug court’s success made it a model for similar courts around the country, and was featured in an Emmy Award-winning documentary.
A third generation, life member of the Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department, Judge Reitz was also a member of the Rotary Club of Carmel. Along with his wife, he is survived by his children Alyssa, Jaime and Michael, six grandchildren and numerous family members. In December 2018, Judge Reitz also administered the oath of office for Byrne’s second term in the Assembly at the Putnam County Historical Courthouse.
A Senate Memorial Resolution that Harckham introduced notes that Reitz “in every capacity in which he served, and through every program he developed, has left his permanent mark on the criminal justice community, and will forever be remembered as a determined, innovative and genuinely concerned expert in his field.”
Harckham thanked Assemblyman Byrne for originating the idea of naming the courtroom for Judge Reitz.
Barbara Reitz said, “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. 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.”
The above information was previously distributed and made public for immediate release by the Office of Assemblyman Kevin Byrne