113 N.J.L.J. 225
March 1, 1984
Municipal Prosecutor Prosecuting
Complaints on Behalf of Private
Client in the Same Municipal Court
We have been asked by two different attorneys whether it is
ethical for the Municipal Prosecutor to prosecute complaints in his
Municipal Court on behalf of a client other than the State or
Municipality, specifically private clients wishing to retain the
services of the Municipal Prosecutor on a regular basis. He will
handle complaints in Municipal Court arising out of such matters as
shoplifting and passing bad checks.
Practice in Municipal Courts is governed largely by Part 7 of the Court Rules. We have previously dealt with these rules, and specifically Rule 7:4-4, in our Opinion 448, 105 N.J.L.J. 119 (1980), in which we held that a Municipal Prosecutor could not ethically represent private clients who were defendants in the Municipal Court. See R. 1:15-3(b).
The question posed in this inquiry deals with the Municipal Prosecutor as the attorney for a private client seeking to prosecute a matter in the Municipal Court on behalf of that client rather than directly on behalf of the State or Municipality. In both cases, however, the attorney appears on behalf of the people of the State. Rule 7:4-4 (b) provides that where no one else appears on behalf of the State or municipality, any attorney may appear on behalf of the complaining witness. Accordingly, we see no impropriety in the Municipal Prosecutor prosecuting a matter in his Municipal Court on behalf of a private client and being paid by that client.