Ethics Committee not Amused by Comedian/Judge (NJ)

By day, Judge Vincenzo Sicari presides over a Municipal Court in Hackensack, NJ, but by night he works the comedy circuit as “Vince August.” He sought guidance from the Advisory Committee of Extra Judicial Activities as to whether this practice was acceptable, and the committee recently advised him that he needs to pack in his act if he wants to continue on the Bench. The Judge has now petitioned the Supreme Court of New Jersey to weigh in on the issue.

The panel based its decision, in part, on Canon 2B of the Code of Judicial Ethics which states: “A judge should not allow family, social, political, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should not lend the prestige of office to advance the private interests of others; nor should a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position of influence.”

The Judge sought a compromise, advising the committee that he would only use a stage name and would decline any request for press interviews. But the committee found that there were earlier articles and stories available on the Internet, including some showing his photograph. Therefore, he could be recognized as a local municipal judge, and some of his material could “suggest bias, predisposition and lack of impartiality, which could negatively impinge on the perceptions of litigants, witnesses and the public at large.”

Although the Judge indicates he may retire from the bench in the coming months, he still intends to pursue his appeal.
We’ll keep you posted.

If you’d like further information, please e-mail mbono@wcmlaw.com.

http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nj/ACEA-Op12-08.pdf