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The search for New York City’s funniest judge has ended before even a single joke could be told. A group of seven current and retired jurists, including Brooklyn Supreme Court Justices Albert Tomei and Alan D. Marrus and Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Michael J. Brennan, had been slated to deliver stand-up routines tonight at a Manhattan comedy club, as part of a show featuring court personnel (including non-judges) from around the city. But the judges got cold feet when the club, Stand-Up New York, began promoting the evening as “The Funniest Judge Contest.” And after an item on the event appeared in the Law Journal last Wednesday, the judges decided to back out, fearing that the use of their names to promote a business enterprise could violate standards of judicial ethics (admission is charged at the club, although none of the performers were to have been paid). Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Abraham G. Gerges, who had been touted by the club as an entrant in the contest although he had not officially agreed to participate, said that the withdrawal was a case of discretion being the better part of valor. “It’s a possibility of a conflict and when there’s a possibility it’s better not to take a chance,” he said. Justice Marrus, who frequently entertains at judicial seminars, agreed. “My interest was just to have a good time with other people in the court system,” he said. “But since there has been a concern expressed that there may be an ethical conflict, the judicious thing to do is to pull out.” He added, “It’s a shame that the fun was taken out of the evening for the judges, but we’re used to not having fun.” Administrative Law Judge Shannon Taylor, who began organizing the show in January, joked that the judges may have overestimated the evening’s money-making potential. “The people who come to see the lawyers perform never order food or drinks,” he said. “So it’s a loss right there.” But he said the show would go on, with a mix of lawyers and professional comedians. Lawyers scheduled to perform include Barry Kamins of Brooklyn’s Flamhaft Levy Kamins & Hirsch, David Babner of the Legal Aid Society and Manhattan criminal defense attorney Mel Sachs. The program is at Stand-Up New York, 236 West 78th Street in Manhattan.

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