After posting the image of a noose with the words “Make America Great Again” on his Facebook page, an upstate New York judge announced his resignation in order to avoid formal proceedings against him. The former judge also agreed to never seek or accept judicial office in the future.
On February 18, 2018, Kyle Canning, 29, who served as a justice for the Altona Town Court about 175 miles north of Albany, posted an image on Facebook of a noose with the words: “IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN.” The image posted by Judge Canning was viewable to the public.
On August 27, 2018, Canning removed the image from his Facebook page after receiving a letter from the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct questioning the propriety of the image. On May 7, 2019, the Commission served Canning with a formal written complaint for publicly sharing an image that “conveyed and/or appeared to convey racial and/or political bias, and thereby failed to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
“The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” said Robert Tembeckjian, administrator of the Commission. “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.”
On June 27, 2019, Canning resigned from office. In his resignation letter, Canning wrote, “It is with a sense of despair that I find myself writing this letter. 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.”
In July, Canning signed a stipulation that states he will neither seek nor accept judicial office at any time in the future. The Commission accepted the stipulation and issued an order closing the matter on September 12.
On Tuesday, the Commission issued a press release stating that “Altona Town Court Justice Kyle R. Canning (Clinton County) has resigned while under formal charges by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct for sharing an image on his Facebook account that conveyed racial and/or political bias.”
Canning had been a justice of the Altona Town Court since 2018. His current term would have expired on December 31, 2021.