By Tay Chang
Carmel NY- On June 14, 2019, Judge James Reitz passed away at the age of 57 after suffering a heart attack while in the county courthouse. Lucian Chaflen, a spokesman for the state court system, said “That morning, the court officers performed CPR and used an automatic electronic defibrillator to revive him.” Court officers accompanied Reitz as he was taken by ambulance to the hospital. “Unfortunately, he passed away shortly upon arrival there,” Chalfen said. The funeral was held on Tuesday June 18, 2019 at St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel, according to the Carnegie Funeral Homes.
Judge Reitz was a Putnam County Court judge since 2007 and an acting justice with the state Supreme Court. He worked as a lawyer in private practice from 1991 to 2006. Between 1996 and 2006, he served as a Carmel town justice, according to state records.
In addition, Judge Reitz and his wife Barbara Reitz were involved with Youth Court, which helps the community by making a big difference in the lives of young people all over Putnam County. The Youth Court is a “teen court,” which refers to courts that involve young people in the sentencing of their peers who are transferred from juvenile courts. Youth Court helps students sharpen their public speaking skills, boosting self confidence and giving them an understanding of the legal system. Judge Reitz, who supervised the Drug Treatment Court program, was highly passionate about giving a second chance to people who have shown a willingness to help themselves. From the 30th anniversary celebration of Youth Court, Senator Murphy said, “ I have often said we should clone Barbara and Judge Reitz. They have done incredible work in helping young people become responsible and productive adults.”
All his life, Judge Reitz was a Putnam County resident. He graduated from from Carmel High School. He attended Mercy College, graduating in 1986, and he received his J.D. (Juris Doctor) from the Thomas Cooley Law School in 1989. He then married the love of his life Barbara and lived in Mahopac NY. According to Austin Brian. K, who wrote an article about Judge Reitz’s passing in Putnam County Online, his passion for serving the people was only surpassed by his infinite love for his two children and six grandchildren. He was very active in the community by participating in community service, volunteering, and giving himself to many organizations. In addition, he was a strong advocate for addiction recovery and second chances, and he was a pioneer for his Drug Treatment Court. This program was such a success that it has been adapted into several other courts across the country and would be featured in an Emmy award winning documentary called Hooked: America’s Heroin Epidemic, as stated by Tom Dumas in his article Mahopac Native Judge James Reitz Dies.
Throughout his long and gifted life, he was heavily devoted to his family, the community, and his career.
“It's hard to put into words the emotions with the passing of my lifelong friend Jim. Jim was always the person I turned to for support in good times and bad times and his advice was honest and from the heart,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “He was a pillar of this community and his everlasting impact cannot be measured. My heart is heavy, and I know the entire community mourns this tragic loss. I have lost a dear friend, and Putnam County has lost a dedicated public servant.”