Judge sub­ject of 81 com­plaints over Trump hat

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL -

A Hamil­ton judge who wore a Don­ald Trump cam­paign hat in the court­room has been the sub­ject of 81 com­plaints.

Those griev­ances over Jus­tice Bernd Za­bel wear­ing a “Make Amer­ica Great Again” base­ball cap while pre­sid­ing on Nov. 9, 2016 are the sub­ject of a pub­lic On­tario Ju­di­cial Coun­cil hear­ing this month.

The hear­ing panel will in­clude an On­tario Court of Ap­peal judge as chair, an On­tario Court of Jus­tice judge, a lawyer and a com­mu­nity mem­ber. The Aug. 23 hear­ing at St. An­drew’s Club and Con­fer­ence Cen­tre in Toronto is ex­pected to hear ev­i­dence about the al­le­ga­tions and de­cide whether Za­bel is guilty of ju­di­cial mis­con­duct.

On Nov. 9, Za­bel is al­leged to have made com­ments in court about the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, which re­ferred to his views and those of ju­di­cial col­leagues, the hear­ing no­tice reads. The U.S. elec­tion was held the day be­fore.

A few days later, Za­bel is­sued a pub­lic apol­ogy, say­ing he didn’t mean to make a po­lit­i­cal state­ment or en­dorse­ment. But a tran­script of com­ments the judge made at the end of the day on Nov. 9 ob­tained by the Toronto Star of­fered a con­trast to his pub­lic ex­pres­sion of re­gret: “Brief ap­pear­ance with the hat. Pissed off the rest of the judges be­cause they all voted for Hil­lary, so. I was the only Trump sup­porter up there but that’s OK,” Za­bel said, ac­cord­ing to the tran­script.

The hear­ing panel has the op­tion of dis­miss­ing or up­hold­ing the com­plaints. If they’re up­held, Za­bel faces a warn­ing, rep­ri­mand, or­der to apol­o­gize, mea­sures for ed­u­ca­tion or treat­ment, sus­pen­sion with pay for any pe­riod, or sus­pen­sion with­out pay but with ben­e­fits for up to 30 days. The most se­vere mea­sure would be a rec­om­men­da­tion to re­move Za­bel from of­fice.

Jus­tice Bernd Za­bel

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