113 N.J.L.J. 400
April 12, 1984
Conflict of Interest
Assistant County Counsel Serving
as Mayor of Municipality within County
This inquiry is whether it is proper for an assistant county
counsel to serve simultaneously as the mayor of a municipality in
the same county. We think the question is answered squarely by In
re Opinion No. 415, 81 N.J. 318, 327 (1979), in which the Supreme
Court held that "[a]n attorney, his partner or associate may not be
counsel to a municipality and to the county in which it is
located." After outlining numerous areas in which the respective
interests of a county and a municipality may conflict, the Court
A municipal attorney has a duty to further that municipality's public interest, whereas county counsel is bound to advance the public interest of the county. As we have observed, these interests may frequently be antagonistic. Id., at 326.
If a county counsel cannot also serve as attorney for a municipality in the same county because the respective duties of the two offices may engender a conflict of interests, it follows that he must be precluded from serving as mayor of the municipality for the same reason. The mayor has no less and perhaps even more of an obligation than that of the municipal attorney to further the interests of his municipality vis-a-vis those of the county. Accordingly, we hold that this inquiry is controlled by the rationale of In re Opinion No. 415, supra, and that an attorney cannot properly hold the position of Assistant County Counsel and mayor of a municipality of that county at the same time but should choose between them.