A judge in upstate New York was forced to resign after posting an image of a noose on his Facebook page with a caption claiming people must be punished in order to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” officials said Tuesday.
Kyle R. Canning, 29, who served as a justice for the Altona Town Court about 175 miles north of Albany, submitted his resignation in June after the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct charged him about a month earlier with “conveying racial and/or political bias” on Facebook.
“IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN,” the post in question stated, echoing President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.
Canning shared the Facebook post in February 2018, just a few weeks after taking office, but later deleted it after the commission sent him a letter questioning its appropriateness.
The commission announced Tuesday that it had dropped formal proceedings against Canning after agreeing to a stipulation in which he vowed “never to seek or accept judicial office at any time in the future.”
“The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” Robert H. Tembeckjian, the commission’s administrator, said in a statement Tuesday. “It is the very antithesis of law and justice. For a judge to use the image of the noose in making a political point undermines the integrity of the judiciary and public confidence in the courts.”
The stipulation, filed in July, states that Canning “failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
In his resignation letter to Altona Town Supervisor Larry Ross, Canning apologized for the “inconvenience and hardship” he had imposed on the town and said he felt “coerced” into stepping down.
“It is with a sense of despair that I find myself writing this letter,” Canning wrote. “As you are aware, the Commission of Judicial Conduct has filed a formal written complaint against me. They have presented me with several different options in resolving what they claim to be a serious offense.”
“I feel as though, due to my current financial situation and obligations to my family, I am being coerced into resigning,” he added.
Canning, whose judicial term would have expired December 2021, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.