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'Joking' Judge Forced to Pick Between Job, Comedic Pursuits: Officials

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Thursday, 19 Sep 2013 03:24 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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"Joking Judge" Vince Sicari, the part-time New Jersey municipal court jurist who doubles as a stand-up comedian and actor, was told by the New Jersey Supreme Court Thursday he has pick between the two jobs.

The justices ruled 7-0 that Sicari, who serves in South Hackensack, will have to step down from his $13,000 a year job if he continued to pursue his comedic and acting career on the side, The Associated Press reported

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"The judge's acting and comedy career is incompatible with the Code of Judicial Conduct and therefore he may not serve as a municipal court judge while continuing with that career," the court said in a statement Thursday.

Sicari, 43, said he would respond to the decision later Thursday. He attempted to appeal a 2008 state ethics committee ruling that said he can't continue working as a paid entertainer while working part-time in court, dealing with traffic ticket cases and disorderly persons offenses. 

Sicari had argued through his attorney E. Drew Britcher in February to the Supreme Court that the public should not have any problem separating his role as a comedian/actor and a judge.

"He is doing something that we all in society should try to be able to distinguish," Britcher told the justices in February, according to the Star-Ledger. "Certainly, as we all watched the Oscars Sunday evening, I doubt many of us think the various actors and actresses who won awards for their roles were expressing something that was an individual expression of their own but rather the result of a script." 

The state's deputy attorney general Kim Ringler argued that Sicari, who is a regular on the ABC hidden-camera series "What Would You Do?" creates a confusing persona for people who recognize him on the bench.

Ringler told the justices in February that in one episode of "What Would You Do?" Sicari pretends to be a person who is belittling a gay couple, eliciting reactions from unsuspecting people who don’t know they’re on camera.

"He insults and provokes the public, trading on stereotypes," Ringler said.

Sicari has performed as a warm-up act for "The Daily Show with John Stewart" and had performed weekly at Carolines on Broadway comedy club in New York City.

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