99 N.J.L.J. 353
April 29, 1976
Husband, Municipal Attorney; Wife,
School Board Member DR 5-101; DR 9-101
A firm of municipal attorneys asks whether the membership of
the wife of one of its attorneys on the elective board of education
of the same municipality creates a conflict of interest.
In Opinion 44, 87 N.J.L.J. 297 (1964), we found no inherent conflict of interest where a councilman and the attorney to the elected autonomous board of education in the one municipality were partners. In Opinion 318, 98 N.J.L.J. 823 (1975), we held there was no inherent conflict where the wife of an assistant county counsel became a member of the board of freeholders. For the reasons expressed in those opinions, we hold that in the present inquiry the marital relationship does not present a conflict of interest per se. But as stated in Opinion 44, supra, when situations arise which concern both public bodies, the attorneys may have to withdraw if the existence of the marital relationship may affect the independent judgment of the attorneys (DR 5-10l) or create the appearance of impropriety (DR 9-101). See our Opinion 282, 97 N.J.L.J. 362 (1974). Compare In re Ellen Gaulkin, 69 N.J. 185 (1976).