98 N.J.L.J. 126
February 6, 1975
Conflict of Interest
Adult Community Development Corporation
Attorney Partner of Municipal Prosecutor
The inquirer's law partner has been appointed municipal
prosecutor. The municipality has also appointed a committee of
citizens to form a nonprofit corporation for the purpose of
building and maintaining housing for senior citizens within the
municipality. The board of trustees of the new corporation, which
will be known as the Adult Community Development Corporation,
wishes to appoint the inquirer as its counsel.
In view of our Opinion 281, 97 N.J.L.J. 362 (1974), the attorney wishes to be advised as to whether he is barred from accepting this appointment because of his partner's office as municipal prosecutor. He points out that the development corporation's board members serve without remuneration and that the corporation receives no funding from the municipality, although its board members are appointed by the township committee and the corporation must deal with the township in acquiring real estate, tax abatement and any zoning changes.
This inquiry differs from the one which was before this Committee in Opinion 281, supra, in that there the attorney for the development corporation desired to appear before the several public boards of the municipality on behalf of other clients.
We have discussed the limitation on the appearance of partners of municipal prosecutors before various boards of the municipal government in Opinion 5, 86 N.J.L.J. 361 (1963), and Opinion 8, 86 N.J.L.J. 718 (1963). Such limitations, of course, would also affect the inquirer here, as a partner of a municipal prosecutor. But, we do not have that problem here since he is not seeking leave to appear before these municipal boards, but only to represent the autonomous development corporation.
We have examined R. 1:15-3(c) and the cases and opinions of this Committee cited in the annotations in the Pressler edition, and in particular Opinion 186, 93 N.J.L.J. 617 (1970). In that opinion, we held that neither a municipal prosecutor nor his partner may appear before the municipal zoning or planning board and, of course, that limitation would apply to other municipal boards.
However, it is our view that there is no conflict in the situation here presented, since the inquirer will confine his activities in the municipality solely to the autonomous development corporation and the latter's only connection with the municipal government is that its members are appointed by the township committee. Whatever remuneration will be paid to the attorney will come from the development corporation, and none of its funds will come from the municipality. There will be no relationship between the inquirer and the municipality, as such, and the fact that his partner is the municipal prosecutor will not create any conflict of interest.