The Ontario Judicial Council has issued a 30-day suspension to a judge who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat in court.
Ontario Court Justice
Bernd Zabel has been suspended without pay and reprimanded for what an OJC panel found was a breach of a fundamental principle that judges be impartial and not express political views. Zabel faced possible removal from the bench, but the panel found that was too harsh a penalty.
“In this case, a judge with a lengthy and stellar record of service committed a single aberrant and inexplicable act of judicial misconduct,” the decision said.
Zabel was initially suspended in December after he sported the red ball cap associated with supporters of President Donald Trump in a Hamilton court the day after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Lawyers, scholars and members of the public submitted 81 complaints in all about the episode to the OJC.
At his OJC hearing, Zabel admitted he had engaged in misconduct.
The panel found Zabel’s conduct was serious and that it harmed the reputation of justice in Ontario. However, the panel also found that Zabel realized his conduct was unacceptable, regretted his actions and has made efforts to change.
The panel also noted other mitigating factors such as Zabel’s unblemished record from 27 years on the bench, apart from the incident in 2016.
The province of Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General has backed the Law Society of Upper Canada’s stance not to accredit graduates of Trinity Western University, saying that to do so would be to limit educational opportunities for LGBTQ law students.
The fight over accreditation from the proposed British Columbia-based law school — which has a community covenant that requires students only engage in sexual activity in marriage with someone of an opposite sex — made its way to the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Kenneth Cole of Epstein Cole LLP has received the 2017 Catzman Award for Professionalism and Civility. Cole, a founding partner of the firm who has been in practice since 1978, accepted the award at the Opening of the Courts ceremony Sept. 12.
“Mr. Cole is a leader of the bar and a highly respected and civil advocate,” according to a news release from The Advocates’ Society. The award was created by the Catzman family to honour the late Marvin A. Catzman of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, with The Advocates’ Society and the Chief Justice of Ontario’s Advisory Committee on Professionalism.
LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times reported the federal government has tabled a massive omnibus bill to overhaul the country’s national security regime. Readers were asked if they had legal concerns about how impacted people could remove themselves from no-fly lists. About 62 per cent said yes, they had concerns about how clients impacted by being on the list could pursue litigation to have themselves removed. Another 38 per cent said no, an enhanced security regime meant certain legal tradeoffs.