A judge threatened a Black defendant with a gun while presiding over a criminal case, a conduct commission said.
He then bragged about the incident to his cousin and other magistrates, per reports.
The commission on Thursday determined that he should be removed from office.
A New York judge who bragged to his colleagues about pulling a loaded gun on a Black man inside a courthouse should be removed from office, the state's conduct commission in a determination released on Thursday.
Robert J. Putorti, a non-attorney who has since 2014 served as a town justice in Whitehall, near Albany, pulled out a semiautomatic handgun while presiding over a criminal case in late 2015 or early 2016, said New York State's Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Putorti, 52, boasted about the incident during a 2018 meeting of the Washington County Magistrates Association, per AP. He said he pulled out his gun on what he described as a "large Black man" and a "big Black man" who was "built like a football player" and "about 6 feet 9 inches tall" because the defendant approached the bench "too quickly," the commission said.
In fact, the defendant was approximately 6 feet tall and weighed 165 pounds, said the commission.
The commission, in its determination, said it was "troubled" by Putorti's "repeated description" of the defendant's race.
Putorti was required to discuss the courthouse incident with his supervisor and later signed a counseling memo agreeing never to display, use, or threaten a firearm in court except in response to "deadly physical force," the commission said.
The supervisor, Glens Falls City Court Judge Gary Hobbs, said that a defendant being "large" or Putorti feeling nervous would not be sufficient cause for him to pull out his gun, according to the commission, per AP.
The New York Post reported that Putorti also bragged about the courthouse incident to his cousin, a journalist student at Hofstra University, in an article published in the Long Island Report. He reportedly described pointing his gun at "someone" who came rushing towards him in the article.
The commission found that Putorti's conduct in court demonstrated that he "lacks the appropriate judicial temperament" and that "his actions irreparably undermined confidence" in his ability to serve as a judge.
It also found that he "showed his lack of attention to his ethical obligations when he engaged in improper fundraising" by using his personal Facebook account to promote fundraisers for his Elks Lodge, a fraternal order, on at least seven occasions.
Nine of the commission panel's 10 members concurred with the decision to remove Putorti from office. He has 30 days to accept the decision or take it to the Court of Appeals for review.
The commission's administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in a statement: "The courthouse is where threats or acts of gun violence are meant to be resolved, not generated.
"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. To then brag about it repeatedly with irrelevant racial remarks is utterly indefensible and inimical to the role of a judge."
Putorti's attorney Michael D. Root did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Saturday.
Read the original article on Insider