Disciplinary hearing set for Ontario judge who wore ‘Make America Great Again’ hat

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TORONTO – An Ontario judge who wore a hat in court bearing a slogan used by U.S. President Donald Trump is facing a disciplinary hearing Wednesday.

Justice Bernd Zabel is set to appear before an Ontario Judicial Council panel in Toronto to face allegations of judicial misconduct over the Nov. 2016 incident.

The council says it’s alleged Zabel wore a baseball cap with the slogan “Make America Great Again” in court on Nov. 9 — the day after Trump won the U.S. election — and made comments about the election, “his views and those of his judicial colleagues.”

Zabel later apologized publicly for his behaviour, calling it a “lapse in judgment,” but the council says it’s alleged his statement “was not consistent with comments he made in court” on the day of the incident.

The council says it received 81 complaints about Zabel’s behaviour on that day.

If Zabel is found guilty, the panel may impose a number of sanctions or recommend he lose his job.

The Ontario Court of Justice said in January that Zabel, who is based in Hamilton, was no longer being assigned cases.

A Hamilton city councillor, who said the incident raised concerns about Zabel’s impartiality in the courtroom, has called for the judge to step down or be removed from the bench.


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