Hamilton

Women's legal fund files complaint about Hamilton judge in Trump hat

The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund has filed a second formal complaint against a Hamilton judge who wore a “Make America Great” hat in court the day after Donald Trump's election win.

There are now two complaints before the province over the judge's hat

The slogan 'Make America Great Again' was a fixture of the Trump campaign. Here, the presidential candidate puts on his signature hat while on the campaign trail. A Canadian judge is being criticized for wearing a similar cap. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund has filed a second formal complaint against a Hamilton judge who wore a "Make America Great" hat in court the day after Donald Trump's election win.

The complaint argues Judge Bernd Zabel of the Ontario Court of Justice breached several principals of judicial behaviour.

It says wearing such a political symbol "constitutes a serious breach of the impartiality and objectivity that are foundational expectations of a judge."

According to a Globe and Mail report published on Friday,  Zabel donned a "Make America Great Again" baseball cap last Wednesday in court.

The report said the judge was wearing the hat when he walked into his courtroom, he told the court that Trump's victory was an historical event, but he removed the cap and placed it on the bench in front of him during proceedings. The report said the judge came back with the cap after the court had its first morning break.

LEAF is deeply troubled by Justice Zabel's conduct.- Kim Stanton, Women's Legal Education and Action Fund legal director

An Osgoode Hall law professor filed a formal complaint with the Ontario Judicial Council on Friday, and now the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund is following suit.

"How will a sexual assault survivor and/or a member of a racialized community targeted by Trump's comments during the campaign feel as a witness, accused, litigant or counsel before a court in which the judge has made such a partisan display?" wrote Legal Director Kim Stanton in the complaint.

"As an organization that advocates on behalf of women and girls, many of whom experience intersectional inequality as a result of their race, (dis)ability, sexual orientation and/or immigration status, LEAF is deeply troubled by Justice Zabel's conduct."

In a statement, Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson Brendan Crawley said that ministry can't comment on "judicial conduct or any complaint that may be heard by the council."

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