ALBANY — An upstate New York town judge resigned following a complaint about a Facebook post that featured a noose, a Trump campaign slogan and a phrase about making “evil people” fear punishment.
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced Tuesday that Altona Town Court Justice Kyle R. Canning resigned from the $8,700-a-year-job June 27.
A formal written complaint from the commission said Canning appeared “to convey racial and/or political bias.”
The text on the posted image read: “If we want to make America great again we will have to make evil people fear punishment again.”
Commission Administrator Robert Tembeckjian issued a statement saying it undermines the judiciary’s integrity, along with public confidence in the courts, for a judge to use “the image of the noose in making a political point.”
“The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” he said in the statement. “It is the very antithesis of law and justice.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Canning described himself as a registered Democrat and said he did not consider the post’s racial symbolism.
“There is not a man that I could despise more than Donald Trump,” said Canning.
“The post was not racist. I’m not a racist guy,” he added. “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 told the Times.
Canning, who is not an attorney, agreed never to hold judicial office again. He had been a justice in the town near the Canadian border since 2018.
In his resignation letter, Canning said he felt coerced into resigning due to his financial situation and family obligations.
He acknowledged the complaint from the commission and wrote “they have presented me with several different options in resolving what they claim to be a serious offense.”
Reporter Ryan Tarinelli is a corps member for Report for America, a nonprofit organization that supports local news coverage in a partnership with The Associated Press for New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.