WHITEHALL, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In a motion filed Friday, October 21, the Chief Justice of the New York State Court of Appeals ordered Judge Robert J. Putorti of Whitehall suspended with pay. The decision took effect immediately.

In early September, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct decided to remove Judge Putorti from the bench. According to court documents, in late 2015 or early 2016, Putorti pointed a loaded semi-automatic handgun at a self-proclaimed “large Black man” in his courtroom, out of fear for his safety.

Those same court documents allege that Putorti gave an informal interview to his cousin, in which the Judge mentioned how he pointed his handgun in court at a defendant, as well as told other judges that he had once brandished the weapon in the courthouse. Putorti reportedly described in that interview how he carries a concealed firearm while presiding on the bench.

On top of the gun-wielding allegations, a second complaint claimed that Putorti solicited funds for his personal benefit, and for that of the Whitehall Elks Lodge, from October 2019 to October 2020. He allegedly posted several fundraisers on his Facebook page during the year in question.

After the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct called for Putorti’s removal, the judge appealed the decision. Putorti says he has had no other complaints about his behavior on the bench. In a letter to the state court of appeals, he cites his deep love for the Whitehall community as a reason for his judiciary service.

If the New York State Court of Appeals upholds the Commission’s decision, Judge Putorti will be permanently barred from serving as a judge in the state. The next court hearing for this case will be held Tuesday, November 14.

Putorti has been a justice of Whitehall Town Court since January 1, 2014. In June 2014, he was named the acting justice of Whitehall Village Court and was elected as justice of that court in April 2018. Putorti is not an attorney, and his terms in both courts were originally slated for a 2025 expiration.