Municipal Court Judge Vince Sicari is fighting for his chance to have a career as a comedian. After being ordered by an ethics committee to give up his second job, the “Joking Judge” from New Jersey is taking his case to the Supreme Court.
According to KPHO, the judge has appeared on Stephen Colbert's show and worked in stand-up comedy for some time.
The Advisory Committee on Extrajudicial Activities, regulating judges' secondary activities while on the bench, has reportedly stopped him from performing.
“It seems a bit unusual that a United States Supreme Court justice can appear on the show but a municipal court judge making [$13,000 (€9,940)] a year can’t warm up the crowd,” states Sicari’s attorney, E. Drew Britcher.
Britcher also notes that other judges have published their works for a profit, and have charged for giving lectures.
North Jersey quotes the judge as he explains that he needs to moonlight because his job in the municipal court, which usually includes an average of four appearances per month, does not offer sufficient financial compensation.
“I’m working 250 nights a year. [...] I pretty much never say no to a gig,” he says.
“It’s understood that he could do something traditional and respectable — like being a private practicing attorney or being a real estate dealer. [...] They need to freshen up their views of society,” says Geoffrey Hazard of the University of California’s Hastings College of Law.
Sicari's roles on the Colbert show have been brought into question, as he sometimes depicts prejudiced characters who discriminate against African-Americans or the gay community.
“He’s actually very professional on the bench. [...] I never got the impression that he was a stand-up comic,” attorney Marc D’Arienzo argues, stressing that the judge has never treated minority defendants differently.