A judge in Ontario, Canada, has been suspended after he wore a cap that had U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” in a court, according to reports Friday. Judge Bernd Zabel wore the cap a day after the U.S. presidential election was held last November.
The Ontario court received several formal complaints about Zabel’s support for Trump. On Nov. 9, 2016, he wore the red cap to the court in the Lake Ontario port city of Hamilton and placed it on a bench near him throughout the proceedings. His position as a judge requires him to display political neutrality.
The court stopped assigning cases to Zabel to preside on Dec. 21, 2016, court spokeswoman Kate Andrew said, according to the local daily the Canadian Press. No further details were provided.
Zabel did not comment on the development. However, in November, he apologized for his actions and said that he meant to be funny.
“What I did was wrong,” he told the Canadian daily the Globe and Mail. “I wish to apologize for my misguided attempt to mark a moment in history by humor in the courtroom following the surprising result in the United States election.”
However, the Toronto Star newspaper reported — citing a transcript — that Zabel explicitly said he supported Trump in court on Nov. 9.
“Brief appearance with the hat. P----d 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 reportedly said.
Zabel was appointed to the bench in 1990.
Lawyer Michael Lacy, a vice-president of Canada’s Criminal Lawyers’ Association, said that a transparent investigation should be conducted in Zabel’s case to determine whether any further action is required.
“The core of our judiciary in Canada is that judges be independent and objective, that they not be politically partisan in any way,” Lacy said. “That includes not wearing, or displaying or publicly supporting a political party.”