On Thursday, October 19, 2023, the Olean Times Herald reported that Justice Robert Putorti, a judge serving in the Whitehall town and village courts near Glens Falls, was removed from his position after he pulled a gun on a Black man in court and boasted about it. The decision was made by the New York State Court of Appeals, effective immediately.
On September 12, 2023, AbusiveDiscretion reported that Putorti was facing possible dismissal for brandishing a loaded firearm at a defendant during a court proceeding in 2015. The judge claimed he acted out of fear, but the Commission on Judicial Conduct argued that his actions were unwarranted and violated the defendant’s rights.
In the latest development of the case, the New York State Court of Appeals decided to remove Putorti effective immediately. The decision came after the state Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended his removal following an investigation into the said incident. Putorti pulled out a semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry concealed when the plaintiff, a 6-foot Black man, allegedly crossed a stop line in front of the justice’s bench. The judge would later brag about his actions, describing the man as 6-foot, 9 inches tall, and built like a football player, when in fact, the man was 6 feet tall and 165 pounds.
The commission found that Putorti’s actions were motivated by bias, citing the “classic and common racist trope that Black men are inherently threatening or dangerous.” The judge showed little remorse for the incident and was also found to have engaged in improper fundraising tactics while under investigation.
The Court of Appeals denounced Putorti’s conduct, stating that his actions were an “unwillingness or inability to abide by the Rules of Judicial Conduct.”
This decision marks a significant moment in the state’s efforts to address bias and discrimination in the judicial system. The removal of Justice Putorti sends a clear message that such behavior will not be tolerated and that the state is committed to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and justly.
Source: Olean Times Herald