No dis­ci­pline for Hamil­ton judge who wore Trump T-shirt while out shop­ping

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - ALEX MCKEEN

An On­tario judge who wore a Don­ald Trump cam­paign T-shirt in pub­lic won’t be dis­ci­plined, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter posted on the Canadian Ju­di­cial Coun­cil web­site last month.

Toni Skar­ica, an On­tario Su­pe­rior Court judge who pre­vi­ously served as a Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MPP in the for­mer rid­ings of Went­worth North and Went­worth-Burling­ton from 1995 to 2000, was spot­ted wear­ing a “Make Amer­ica Great Again” Tshirt by Dun­das res­i­dent Lorne War­wick while gro­cery shop­ping in June 2016.

War­wick, a re­tired teacher, said that he and his wife im­me­di­ately rec­og­nized Skar­ica, and they were shocked to see what he called a “fla­grant dis­play” of sup­port for a politi­cian who had openly dis­crim­i­nated against Mus­lims and Mex­i­cans dur­ing the cam­paign.

“I won­dered about his abil­ity to in­de­pen­dently as­sess peo­ple be­fore the courts,” War­wick said in an in­ter­view Mon­day.

War­wick wrote to the ju­di­cial coun­cil with a com­plaint about Skar­ica’s choice of at­tire, claim­ing that it con­sti­tuted a breach of im­par­tial­ity rules for judges.

The Canadian Su­pe­rior Courts Judges’ As­so­ci­a­tion web­site says that judges must ap­pear to be im­par­tial in both their pub­lic and pri­vate lives.

When the Toronto Star reached out to Skar­ica, his of­fice said that he de­clined to com­ment.

A let­ter re­spond­ing to War­wick’s com­plaint dated Sept. 2, 2016, was posted on the coun­cil’s web­site late last month. It de­tails Skar­ica’s de­fence to the com­plaint, in­clud­ing that he was wear­ing the T-shirt as an item of his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ra­bilia and that he does not en­dorse Trump.

The let­ter states that Skar­ica put the T-shirt on to show a friend, and later wore it out shop­ping, but “he does not in­tend to wear the T-shirt in pub­lic in any mean­ing­ful way.”

The coun­cil was sat­is­fied that Skar­ica had no mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion to the Trump cam­paign, and con­cluded that War­wick’s com­plaint was “un­founded.”

Skar­ica is not the only Hamil­tonarea judge fac­ing scru­tiny for sport­ing Trump-re­lated at­tire. Jus­tice Bernd Za­bel faces a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing set for Aug. 23 for wear­ing a “Make Amer­ica Great Again” base­ball cap in court the day af­ter the Amer­i­can elec­tion.

Za­bel has apol­o­gized for the choice, call­ing it a “mis­guided” at­tempt at hu­mour.

While War­wick was hop­ing for Skar­ica to be rep­ri­manded, he is sat­is­fied that his com­plaint was taken se­ri­ously.

“I was pleased that they did speak to him and he had to de­fend him­self be­fore the as­so­ci­a­tion.”

Jo­hanna La­porte, a spokesper­son for the coun­cil, said the let­ter dis­miss­ing the com­plaint had been pub­licly avail­able be­fore its re­lease on the web­site in June, since War­wick had pub­lished it on his blog, and the cor­re­spon­dence was re­ported in the me­dia.

It went up on the web­site a few weeks ago “for ease of ref­er­ence,” af­ter a lawyer wish­ing to cite the let­ter asked for it to be pub­lished.

Toni Skar­ica: For­mer MPP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.