New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that comedian Vince August will not be allowed to keep performing comedy if he wants to hold onto his part-time job as a municipal judge. August is the stage name of New Jersey judge Vince Sicari, who came under criticism from the state ethics board for his other career as a standup and actor. August has appeared on ABC’s hidden camera prank show What Would You Do?, and done warmup for The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. In a unanimous opinion, the state court ruled that, “The judge’s acting and comedy career is incompatible with the Code of Judicial Conduct and therefore he may not serve as a municipal court judge while continuing with that career.”
The court argued that it might be difficult for people to separate Judge Sicari from the the racist and homophobic characters August has played on the ABC show, which documents how ordinary bystanders react to illegal or immoral behaviors in public. They also worried that his standup put his personal biases on display.
“In the course of his routines, Sicari has demeaned certain people based on national origin and religion and has revealed his political leanings,” according to the court’s opinion. “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 before whom he or she appears can maintain the objectivity and impartiality that must govern all municipal court proceedings.”