115 N.J.L.J. 614
May 23, 1985
Conflict of Interest - County
Counsel Representing Municipal
Housing Authority in the Same County
We are asked whether county counsel may continue to represent
a local Municipal Housing Authority in the same county. The local
authority in question was created by the municipality pursuant to
N.J.S.A. 55:14A-l et seq.
Our Supreme Court held in In re Opinion No. 415, 81 N.J. 318 (1979) that "[a]n attorney, his partner or associate may not be counsel to a municipality and to the county in which it is located." We held in Opinion 530, 113 N.J.L.J. 400 (1984) that an Assistant County Counsel could not serve simultaneously as Mayor of a municipality in the same county.
The inquirer argues persuasively that the prospect of actual conflict between the local Housing Authority and the county is remote, pointing out that none of the properties administered by the Housing Authority abuts upon a state highway or county road and that the community is virtually 100 percent developed. Nevertheless, the local Housing Authority is a creature of the municipality and critics are not so discerning as to appreciate the distinction between the municipality itself and those entities which it is empowered to create. The inquirer is referred to Opinion 519, 111 N.J.L.J. 529 (1983) for a thorough discussion of the principles involved.
In light of the foregoing, we must conclude that it would be ethically inappropriate to serve as counsel to a local Housing Authority while serving as county counsel for the county in which the municipality is situate.