An Upstate New York judge’s racist post got him in a world of trouble earlier this year, and sparked his resignation. Now, Kyle R. Canning can never serve again as a judge after a judicial commission dropped formal proceedings against him when he agreed to never seek or accept a judicial office in the future.
Canning, who sat on the Altona Town Court in Clinton County posted an offensive Facebook message in Feb. 2018 with a picture of a noose captioned, “IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN.”
The Commission on Judicial Conduct announced Tuesday that it would drop the formal charges against Canning for displaying a message that “conveyed racial and/or political bias” since he resigned, The HuffPost reports. But he must never seek or accept judicial office at any time in the future.
Canning resigned from office on June 27, 2019, and has agreed to the commission’s terms, the report says.
“The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in a statement.
“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.”
Canning apologized in a resignation letter sent to Altona Town Supervisor Larry Ross, for the “inconvenience and hardship” he caused, while complaining that he was “coerced” into doing so.
“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 told the HuffPost he didn’t mean for his message to be racist.
“The post was not a racist post. The whole post was pro death penalty. I am pro death penalty and it is not illegal to be pro death penalty,” Canning said. “None of that was in my mind when I shared my post. The noose was used for death penalty long before racism was ever a thing.”
He said he couldn’t afford to fight against the commission because of his paltry judge’s salary.
“I have house payments. I have two girls,” Canning said. “They gave me an ultimatum and being a father I had no choice. I could not spend a whole year’s salary to go down to New York to defend myself.”