Can the New Jersey Supreme Court Take a Joke? - U.S. Third Circuit
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Can the New Jersey Supreme Court Take a Joke?

We're often told that life is all about choices. Should I stay or should I go? Leave the gun, take the cannoli. Red pill, blue pill.

But pop culture also gives us faith that it's possible to have the best of both worlds. (See Hannah Montana, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the 2002 Jay-Z/R.Kelley collaboration.)

Which school of thought applies to judges? That's a question for the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Vince Sicari -- stage name: Vince August -- is a part-time South Hackensack, N.J., municipal court judge by day and a stand-up comic by night, according to The Associated Press. He's warmed-up Comedy Central audiences, performed hundreds of live gigs, and appeared on the ABC "Primetime" hidden camera segment, "What Would You Do?".

In 2008, the state ethics committee ruled that Sicari can't continue working as a paid entertainer while working part-time as a judge. The comic didn't get it -- and appealed.

The committee and the New Jersey attorney general's office are concerned that some of Sicari's characters and comedy would confuse the public and reflect poorly on the state judiciary. Sicari's lawyer, however, told the New Jersey Supreme Court that he keeps his judicial personality completely separate from his stage persona. "He doesn't do comedy about being a judge, or a lawyer, or the law. Judge Sicari the actor is not Judge Sicari the judge," The New York Times reports.

Sicari's bench gig certainly doesn't bring home the bacon. Unlike federal district and appellate judges -- who earn $174,000 and $194,000, respectively -- Vince Sicari only makes $13,000 annually for his part-time judicial job. His benefits, and most of his income, are from comedy.

New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner seemed concerned during this week's hearing about whether Sicari's jokes included "remarks demeaning individuals on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socio-economic status," which are prohibited under judge's rules of conduct, the AP reports.

The court has yet to issue a ruling.

What do you think, can a judge make a joke? Can the New Jersey Supreme Court take a joke? Would it ever be okay for a federal judge to moonlight as a comic? Tell us your thoughts -- or your favorite joke -- on Facebook or Google+

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