87 N.J.L.J. 778
December 3, 1964
Conflict of Interest - Municipal Attorney
The inquiry in this case is whether an individual who is the
attorney for a municipality and has complete charge of its law
department and legal affairs can represent a pedestrian who was
struck by an automobile within the municipality.
A routine police investigation was made in connection with the accident, but the police department took no action since its investigation did not reveal the necessity for any prosecution.
The inquirer states that no member of the law department was contacted concerning the case, nor were the services of the municipal prosecutor or other members of the law department staff solicited or utilized. In this municipality, the municipal prosecutor works under the general direction and supervision of
the inquirer, as head of the law department.
The inquirer states that he does not believe that our N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 32, 87 N.J.L.J. 185 (1964), prohibits his accepting this case. We agree that under the facts stated he is not precluded. However, we iterate what was stated in the cited opinion, i.e., that an attorney in these situations must exercise great care in accepting such cases so as to avoid suspicion that he is using his municipal office to further his professional practice.