Canadian Judge Suspended After Wearing 'MAGA' Hat in Courtroom

Hamilton judge who wore pro-Donald Trump hat suspended for 30 days without pay

The Ontario Judicial Council said yesterday that the conduct of Justice Bernd Zabel warrants the most serious reprimand possible short of removing him from the bench. He said he had bought several MAGA hats as historical memorabilia, not as a Trump supporter.

The council found that the act of wearing the baseball cap into the courtroom 'violated the fundamental principle that the judiciary must remain above and removed from politics, ' according to BBC.com. "But the reader of the whole story of the judge's exemplary 27-year career, his sensitivity to matters such as race and gender, and the absence of any indication of prejudice or bias, might well see things differently". The panel was satisfied that a reasonable member of the public, seeing Justice Zabel enter the courtroom wearing the Trump hat, would think that Justice Zabel was making a political statement and endorsing Donald Trump's campaign. This, because of the US presidents “many well-publicized statements perceived to indicate misogynistic, racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and homophobic views, ” it said.

The 69-year-old justice said his actions were akin to judicial misconduct.

At his hearing last month, Zabel said his intention was to lighten the mood by wearing the Trump cap when he walked into the court the day after Trump won the USA election.

But the four members of the panel that heard the complaints against the judge at a public session last month said his long record of excellent service shows that he deserves another chance - in spite of what they described as serious misconduct.

He testified that it was only after his actions made headlines that he realized some believed he was showing support for the controversial American president and his policies.

When asked about the hats disappearance later, Zabel quipped that he had taken it off because it had angered other judges who “all voted for Hillary, ” according to the agreed statement of facts.

Daniel Brown, Toronto director of the Criminal Lawyers' Association, one of the groups that filed a complaint, said he supported the council's ruling. Zabel later apologized publicly for his behavior, calling it a "lapse in judgment".

He was only gloating that he predicted the outcome of the election.

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