Judge Who Wore MAGA Hat Gets Suspended

Hat incident sparked record number complaints from legal quarters and the public

Hat incident sparked record number complaints from legal quarters and the public

A judge who wore a Donald Trump campaign hat into court on the morning after the past US presidential election will keep his job, but has been suspended for 30 days without pay and reprimanded for a breach of judicial conduct. "It's been a long process, it's been a very public reckoning for Justice Zabel and he's really contrite - he's been very contrite from the first day".

Suspension without pay is the most serious sanction the OJC can impose short of removal from office. Judges must conduct themselves so as to avoid any perception that the administration of justice will be influenced by their political views.

Mr Zabel has called wearing the hat an "ill-considered" attempt at a joke.

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The panel found that Justice Zabel's conduct violated the fundamental principle that the judiciary must remain above and removed from politics.

The 69-year-old justice said his actions were akin to judicial misconduct. But when it ended, the court papers said, he said to a prosecutor that the hat's "brief appearance" was meant to annoy the rest of the judges because he thought they were Clinton supporters.

"The reader of the headline - Judge wears MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat into court - would be very concerned about the capacity of that judge to carry out his judicial duties in an acceptable manner", the panel, made up of two judges, a lawyer and a member of the public, said in their decision, released on Tuesday.

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Also, it said, he recognizes his conduct was unacceptable, and has tried to change by taking one-on-one training from Justice James Turnbull of the Ontario Superior Court.

The inquiry panel said the biggest mitigating factor in its final decision was evidence of Mr Zabel's record as an "open-minded and impartial" judge. "The evidence demonstrates that he is open-minded and impartial and that he does not exhibit any of the polarized, misogynistic, racist or homophobic views numerous complainants attribute to Donald Trump", the council noted.

The statement continued to say that members of vulnerable group don't need to worry the treatment they would receive in his courtroom. Justice Bernd Zabel was wearing the MAGA ball cap on November 9 - as then-president elect Donald Trump was celebrating his victory over Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

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The council described Zabel's headgear as a "single aberrant and inexplicable act of judicial misconduct" in an otherwise sterling career.

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