Should New Jersey Municipal Judge Be Forced to Quit Stand-Up Gig

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Working as a New Jersey municipal judge should give a stand-up comedian a lot of great material. However, the Canons of Judicial Conduct also hold members of the judiciary to a very high ethical standard.

As a result, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently considered whether a part-time municipal court judge Vince A. Sicari should be forced to quit his successful career as a comedian and actor. In 2008, the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Extrajudicial Activities found that his side job could “negatively affect the dignity of the Judiciary.”

New Jersey municipal judges largely work part-time and earn only $13,000 a year. Therefore, it is common for them to hold other jobs, often as New Jersey lawyers. While Sicari’s choice of profession is certainly non-traditional, it is unclear if it is unethical.

Under the Canons of Judicial Conduct, members of the judiciary are required to observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved. They must also avoid the appearance of impropriety in all activities and “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

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