UPDATE: Judge who wore pro-Trump hat to court testifies
A Hamilton judge who wore a pro-Trump hat in court the day after the last U.S. election says he profoundly regrets his ill-conceived actions.
Justice Bernd Zabel testified at his disciplinary hearing today, sitting stiffly as he had to defend himself in front of a room full of colleagues and media.
Zabel admits that the day after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president, he decided to wear a red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap into his courtroom. He told the hearing that he wore it for about a minute before taking it off and putting it down.
The hearing heard audio from the courtroom that day. The moment justice Zabel entered the courtroom, there was laughter, and he said it was to "in celebration of a historic night in the United States."
When court was out of session at the end of the day and he was asked a question by a prosecutor in the room, Zabel said the hat made a "brief appearance" because he "pissed off" other judges who voted for Hillary Clinton, and he was the only one who voted for Trump.
Zabel told the hearing that what he meant to say is that he was the only one who predicted a Trump win, and that his comments were ridiculous and stupid.
WATCH: Presenting counsel Linda Rothstein talks about how a panel will now decide how to restore public confidence in the judicial system pic.twitter.com/zP7Vxqc8wk— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) August 23, 2017
He explained that he was only trying to lighten up the mood after a shocking election, that it was meant as a joke.
Zabel told a four-person panel that he bought several of these hats months earlier for him and his friends as entertainment and as a piece of historical memorabilia.
He added that he is not a Trump supporter, nor is he a misogynist, racist or bigot.
His legal team asked the panel to give their client a warning and formal reprimand. The panel could decide to suspend Zabel, or even remove him from office. They will return with a decision at a later date.
WATCH: Justice Zabel's legal team speak with reporters after his disciplinary hearing for wearing a pro-Trump hat to court pic.twitter.com/IUh7H4IwJe— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) August 23, 2017