A Canadian judge who showed up in court wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat the day after Donald Trump was elected has been suspended from his job.
Bernd Zabel, a judge at the Ontario Court of Justice, was given a 30-day suspension from work with no pay for breaching “standards of judicial conduct.”
Zabel (in the centre of the photo in the tweet below) claimed he wore the hat to “add a bit of humour” to court proceedings in the city of Hamilton.
— John Rennison (@JLRenn) June 24, 2016
He wore the hat when he entered the courtroom and left it in a prominent position on his dais while he dealt with five cases, according to an account of the event by a judicial disciplinary panel.
The account said that afterwards, Zabel said he wore the hat because it “pissed off all of the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary.”
Zabel’s choice of hat provoked more than 80 complaints from lawyers, academics, campaign groups and members of the public, which described it as “an unacceptable expression of partisan political views by a judge.”
None of the complaints were from people in court at the time. One defence lawyer who was there said it was clear Zabel was “joking” and that he had “no concerns” about his professional conduct.
Nonetheless, the panel of judges concluded that Zabel had breached judicial standards. In evidence to the panel Zabel said that he regretted his actions, which were “ill-considered” and “ill-thought-out.”
The panel decided to suspend Zabel, which is their most serious punishment short of expelling him from the judiciary.
Zabel served as a judge in Ontario without incident for 27 years before his “single and inexplicable” piece of misconduct, the panel said.