Judge Can't Moonlight As A Comedian, Court Says

The New Jersey Supreme Court told Vincent Sicari the two careers are "incompatible."

Being a licensed lawyer with a part-time job as a judge on a municipal court would be enough of a career for most workers. But for 44-year-old New Jersey resident Vincent Sicari, the law has been merely just one of his career paths. About a decade ago he started working as a standup comic in New York City using the stage name "Vince August." His moonlighting has gone well: He's warmed up the crowds for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," and has scored regular spots at the famed comedy club, Carolines on Broadway. He performs around 250 gigs a year and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, which is what provides him with health benefits.

"August" has made a name for himself in the comedy world for an edgy brand of humor. He's known to rip children on stage, calling them "soft," "spoiled" and "creepy." In addition, his appearances on ABC's hidden-camera show, "What Would You Do?," have been marked, says The Associated Press, by the "homophobic" and "racist" characters he has portrayed.

An 'incompatible' career: In view of such a resume, the New Jersey Supreme Court voted 7-0 Thursday that the two careers are "incompatible." Sicari was told that he must either give up his comedy work or step down from the court position that he's held since 2008. The court said that judges must follow a "higher standard," and quoted English literature's Geoffrey Chaucer -- "many a true word is said in jest." Sicari chose to immediately resign from his judicial position, for which he earned $13,000 a year.

"I take great pride in being a judge, and to give that up is disappointing," he told the AP. His municipal court, based in South Hackensack, mostly handles traffic tickets and disorderly conduct offenses. "I'm not surprised by the result, but I'm very disappointed."

What was the rationale for the decision? The Court said it recognized that Sicari's jokes "are designed to be funny." The Court also said there was "no evidence that Judge Sicari has ever conducted proceedings in his courtroom in any other manner than a professional one." But the court said New Jersey residents could end up confused or even "horrified" if they saw the same man who judges them letting it rip at a comedy club on race relations and children, among other topics:

"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 ... can maintain the objectivity and impartiality that must govern all municipal court proceedings."


"If it's good enough for the High Court...": Yet a post by legal blog Above the Law suggested such a standard has been applied inconsistently. The post, written by Joe Patrice, pointed out that justices of the Supreme Court such as Sonia Sotomayor have appeared on "The Colbert Report." And so, "it's hard to say that a venue graced by a Supreme Court justice lacks the proper judicial dignity [for Sicari]," Patrice wrote.

Sicari's lawyer, E. Drew Britcher, for his part, pointed out in the proceedings that his client has made sure to never reveal his judicial post when performing. And according to Britcher, Sicari has purposely stayed away from deriving humor from his judicial career. Sicari said that he will continue a private practice in law.

Fellow New Jersey public officials in a similar boat have not been sympathetic to Sicari's plight. New Jersey Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, who also moonlights as a comedian, told the New Jersey Star Ledger that Sicari's comedy work undermines his standing on the court. "Here's the problem. Every lawyer who goes before that judge is going to look for a reason to set aside that case," he said. "If they got the video of [Sicari's] act, and the judge were to say things -- say, in a sexual assault case -- that could be interpreted in a certain way, it could be grounds for upsetting the judge's decision."

And in speaking to the Star-Ledger, Britcher conceded, "we knew going in it was an uphill battle."

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Eliza Lawrence

A judge as a comedian would be really interesting. I guess they could be funny. It is crazy how much work they do. They have a very respectable job.

Eliza Lawrence | http://www.a1peckdrivingschool.com/services-16.html

April 15 2014 at 7:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ddokken69

Have you ever had the chance to sit in court all day and listen to some of the cases?? There is little difference between comedy and the court system\'s defense plea\'s!!!

September 24 2013 at 4:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fotogbill

Hell, he was a municipal judge in South Hackensack? No friggin’ loss to him! South Hack is a spooky little town that is made up of three parts that are non-contiguous (ahh three parts that barely touch each other?) If you are from NJ, it's within the Teteboro, Moonachie vortex of tinytowns. I don't always agree with our Gubernator but I do when he says we should roll all these tinytowns together and make one real town out of em! I would go see Vince as his act probably just busted open a huge gold mine of Jersey Jokes. "My girlfriend lives just across town in South Hack but her phone# is in a different area code!!" ....... ohhhhaaaaww!

September 23 2013 at 8:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mramirez258

juge follow your hart when onedoor closes a nouther will open follow your true hart life happens onley once

September 23 2013 at 5:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vicduc

Justices Scalia and Thomas appear before tea party groups and give speeches all of the time, fund raising on top of it. I think that should be justification for removing them from the bench immediately. If a judge appears on a talk show once, what's the big deal. If they appear in a venue consistently that could create the impression of conflict of interests, that is a big deal.

September 23 2013 at 4:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pete

The NJ Supreme Court is full of old faddy daddies. As long as the Judge Vince executes the duties of his office judiciously and fairly, what he does on his on watch, as long as he's not breaking any laws, ought to be his business.

The other Judges are just jealous they don't have a sense of humor. The Bible says that, "Laughter is good, like a medicine". So what Judge Vince is doing is promoting a healthy sense of well-being, in addition to entertaining people. He should be able to pursue his judicial duties, as well as be a comedian!

September 23 2013 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chante707

Life is too short to be stressed out

September 23 2013 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lahim

So he leaves with a great retirement package and continues his second job.

September 23 2013 at 4:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lahim's comment
Mary

yep at 13,000 annually I am sure he has a fantastic retirement package. It also said he got his health insurance through the night job.

September 24 2013 at 1:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wllharrington

The judges were upset because he was exposing them as the clowns they are.

September 23 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
johnre9999

Now I wanna go see this guy's act!

September 23 2013 at 4:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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