Judge who posted noose photo on Facebook resigns and agrees to never again seek judicial office

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Updated: A town justice in New York has resigned and agreed to never again seek judicial office after he posted a picture of a noose on Facebook to make a point about the need for harsh punishment.

Kyle Canning, a justice of the Altona Town Court in Clinton County, New York, was accused in a May 7 ethics complaint of posting the noose image along with the caption, “If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.” The Albany Times Union and the Washington Post coverage.

Robert Tembeckjian, the administrator of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said in a Sept. 17 press release that the image harmed public confidence in the courts.

“The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” Tembeckjian said. “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 photo and caption, posted in February 2018, were visible to the public. Canning removed the post in August 2018 after receiving a letter from the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The commission said it has closed the ethics proceeding against Canning as a result of his resignation and his stipulation that he would not seek judicial office in the future.

In his June 27 resignation letter, Canning told the Altona town supervisor he was resigning “with a sense of despair” after a formal ethics complaint was filed against him by the judicial conduct commission.

“I feel as though, due to my current financial situation and obligations to my family, I am being coerced into resigning. So effective immediately I will be vacating the office of town justice,” Canning wrote in the letter.

Canning had been a town justice since January 2018. He is not a lawyer.

Canning told the New York Times that he didn’t consider the racial connotations when he posted the noose to support the death penalty.

“The post was not racist. I’m not a racist guy,” Canning said. “I see it as pro-death penalty, pro-capital punishment. It doesn’t need to be a noose; it could have been a gas chamber. It could have been an electric chair.”

Canning, who delivers bread for a living, said he ran for town justice after the township supervisor told him that a judge was needed and no one wanted to run. He was one of two town justices who are on the bench on Tuesdays between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. to deal with matters that include vehicle infractions and some criminal offenses.

Canning also said he is a registered Democrat, and his reference to making America great was not intended to show political support for Trump. “There is not a man that I could despise more than Donald Trump,” he told the New York Times.

Updated Sept. 18 at 8:03 a.m. to include information from the New York Times.

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