94 N.J.L.J. 44
January 21, 1971
Conflict of Interest
Office Associate of Councilman
An attorney inquires:
Is there a conflict of interest if I am
appointed borough prosecutor while my "office"
associate is councilman in the same borough?
The inquirer engages in private practice and shares office space with another lawyer who is a councilman in the same borough, which is considering the inquirer for employment as borough prosecutor. The borough prosecutorship is a part-time position and involves practice before the municipal court in criminal matters and defending appeals in the county court.
R. 1:15-3 provides that an attorney shall not practice in the municipal court of the municipality in which he is a member of the governing body. R. 1:15-4 extends the limitations to a partner, employer, employee or office associate.
In N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 22, 87 N.J.L.J. 13 (1964), we quoted from an opinion of the Supreme Court, which should be the guideline for attorneys who become public officials:
...Similarly, our courts have recently stressed that public officials should avoid not only real conflicts of interest but apparent conflicts of interest as well. ....