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Judge has fatal heart attack in upstate New York courtroom

Visitation and funeral services have been announced for the 57-year-old Putnam County judge who died after suffering a heart attack in his courtroom.  Judge James Reitz was stricken on the bench Friday morning.

Court officers performed CPR and used an automatic electronic defibrillator to try to resuscitate him before he was taken to a hospital by ambulance.  Reitz died shortly after arriving at the hospital. 

A visitation will be held at the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services building in Carmel from 2pm to 8pm.  A Mass of Christian Burial will take place tomorrow at St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel at 10:30am.  In lieu of flowers the Reitz family has asked that donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

The Mahopac resident had been a county judge since 2007 and was also an acting justice with the state Supreme Court. He previously worked as a lawyer in private practice.  He pioneered a Drug Treatment Court program for Putnam County, which gives an innovative way for participants to get a second chance with alternative paths through the judicial system. This was such a success it has been adapted into several other courts across the country and was featured in an Emmy award winning documentary.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says it's hard to put into words the emotions with the passing of her lifelong friend.  She says his advice was honest and from the heart, calling him a pillar of the community.  She added that his everlasting impact cannot be measured.  Judge Reitz was active in community service and volunteering, giving of himself to many organizations, most notably a long time Carmel Rotarian who epitomized Service Above Oneself. 

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Rich Valdes

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