Municipal judge resigns after top state court says he can't moonlight as stand-up comic
Updated: Some part-time municipal judges supplement their income by maintaining a private law practice.
Vincent August Sicari, 44, who sat on the city court bench in South Hackensack, N.J., for years worked as a stand-up comic under the name of Vince August. But he had to choose between working as a judge and appearing on stage after a unanimous state supreme court ruling on Thursday that his acting and comedy career is “incompatible with the Code of Judicial Conduct,” according to Fox News.
His choice was to resign his job as a judge, Sicari told the Associated Press on Thursday.
Deciding a judicial ethics matter of first impression in the state, New Jersey’s top court said his entertainment activities violate Canon 5 of the code. It says jurists should not participate in “extrajudicial” activities that cast doubt on the individual’s impartiality or demean the judiciary.
“In the course of his routines, Sicari has demeaned certain people based on national origin and religion and has revealed his political leanings,” and it is entirely possible that some audience members could eventually wind up in front of Judge Sicari in a municipal case in South Hackensack, wrote the New Jersey Supreme Court in its 7-0 per curiam opinion (PDF).
“The court cannot ignore the distinct possibility that a person who has heard a routine founded on humor disparaging certain ethnic groups and religions will not be able to readily accept that the judge before whom he or she appears can maintain the objectivity and impartiality that must govern all municipal court proceedings.”
ABAJournal.com: “Does judge’s moonlighting as stand-up comic put judiciary in bad light? State’s top court to decide”
Updated at 3:15 p.m. to include information about Sicari’s subsequent resignation.