A Canadian justice who wore a hat bearing U.S. President Donald Trump’s signature slogan in court has been suspended for 30 days without pay for “judicial misconduct.”
The Ontario Judicial Council said Tuesday that Justice Bernd Zabel’s conduct was an “inexplicable act of judicial misconduct” that warranted the most severe punishment outside of removing him from his position, the Associated Press reported.
The council added, while Zabel has been suspended for 30 days without pay, he has not taken on or been assigned any cases since January.
Zabel told four judges at his disciplinary hearing last month that he wore the “Make America Great Again” hat on November 9, 2016, in a Hamilton, Ontario, courtroom.
He added that he decided to wear the hat the day after Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. as a way to “lighten the mood” and did not support the U.S. president in the election cycle.
Many lawyers and justices defended Zabel because of his record of impartiality on the bench.
“It is my view that Justice Zabel was joking. In fact, I was joking with him. It is my view that Justice Zabel’s conduct was likely just a byproduct of the collegial atmosphere that exists in Hamilton,” defense lawyer Michael Wendl, who appeared in court that morning, told the National Post.
Zabel’s judicial record had been unblemished for 27 years before this incident took place, the CBC reported.
The Canadian news organization the National Post reported that, after Zabel serves his punishment, he will remain a judge receiving a $284,000 a year salary.