Vince August is not permitted to perform as a comedian while holding his position as a municipal judge in South Hackensack, a less-than-one-square-mile New Jersey town, who’s police force had to be overhauled in the 1990s due to corruption. The five-year-old case seemingly came to an end this morning when the state Supreme Court voted 7-0 against the comedian (real name: Vince Sicari), explaining his job as a comedian is “incompatible with the Code of Judicial Conduct.”
As we reported in February, the court delayed the ruling because they needed more information about the case. Sicari had been appealing a 2008 state ethics board committee ruling that said he couldn’t perform both functions. Two years later the committee on extra-judicial activities held up that decision.
Sicari has been a comedian for years, working as a warm-up comic for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and as a regular performer at Carolines on Broadway. He earns $13,000 a year as a municipal judge in South Hackensack.
At the heart of the State’s argument is that his work as a comedian might “negatively affect the dignity of the Judiciary.” Court papers specifically cite Sicari’s appearances on the ABC show Primetime: What Would You Do?, where he’s portrayed bigoted characters in an effort to get a reaction from unsuspecting people. Rich Vos, another well-respected comedian, has also appeared on the show centered on performing these social experiments.
Sicari has taken extreme care over the years to guarantee his stand-up material doesn’t cover any topic that might ignite a conflict of interest argument. The 44-year-old makes hundreds of comedy appearances each year, which helps supplement his earnings as a judge.
In 1994, South Hackensack’s police department was disgraced. Its police chief quit in the midst of a gambling, drugs and corruption scandal.