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Judge as a Standup Comic Questioned by New Jersey Ethics Panel

By    |   Tuesday, 26 February 2013 12:54 PM

A New Jersey municipal court judge may not be allowed to keep his gig moonlighting as a standup comedian if members of a state ethics board get their way.

Vince Sicari, whose day job involves ruling on traffic tickets and misdemeanors in a South Hackensack courtroom, is also a standup comedian and actor. He has appeared on Broadway stages, reality shows, and as a house comic for "The Colbert Report," but now the state ethics board is arguing that his extracurricular activities "negatively affect the dignity of the Judiciary," according to court papers obtained by The Record.

According to the ethics board, Sicari appears regularly on ABC's "Primetime: What Would You Do?" where he plays several racist and homophobic characters in short segments meant to shock unsuspecting passers-by. The board says the show could make defendants question Sicari's impartiality, according to the Record.

The New Jersey State Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case Tuesday and will decide whether Sicari is allowed to continue performing on the side.

E. Drew Britcher, Sicari's lawyer and friend, said his client has taken precautions to separate his two careers, including using the stage name "Vince August" when performing and avoiding all law-related jokes. Britcher said the performances make up the more substantial part of Sicari's income, as his two court sessions a month only net him an annual salary of $13,000.

"He's actually very professional on the bench," lawyer Marc D’Arienzo, who has argued several cases in front of Sicari, told the Record. "I never got the impression that he was a stand-up comic."

Sicari has declined to comment publically while the case is ongoing.

This isn't the first time a judge's pastimes have come into question. New Jersey Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson was ordered to stop promoting HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," the show based on his book, "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City."

Britcher argues that New Jersey jurists are held to higher standards than in other states, like New York, where a board ruled a judge was allowed to play in a band part-time.

Related stories:

Scalia: Catholicism at Core of My Judicial Ethics

Critics Fault Retired Justice O'Connor Over Ethics

S.C. Gov Agrees to Pay Ethics Fine, Gets Divorced

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A New Jersey municipal court judge may not be allowed to keep his gig moonlighting as a standup comic if a state ethics board gets its way.
Tuesday, 26 February 2013 12:54 PM
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