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88 N.J.L.J. 91 ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
February 11, 1965
Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court
Assistant Prosecutor's Partner Bail Bonds
An opinion is requested by a member of a law partnership which
has its office in one county but one of whose partner is an
assistant prosecutor in another county. The inquirer states that
his firm represents an insurance company which writes bail bonds
and that from time to time the inquirer will be bringing court
proceedings in the county where his office is with respect to the
forfeiture of bonds or being relieved from bonds where a defendant
has violated the terms of the bond. He will not appear in the
county where the partner is an assistant prosecutor. In taking such
proceedings in the criminal division of the court, motion papers
are served on the prosecutor of the county and, in the case of
forfeiture motions, notice is also served on the county counsel as
representative of the county treasurer.
There appears to be no Canon of Professional Ethics which
specifically provides the answer to this inquiry, nor any language
in any canon which expressly preludes the inquirer from pursuing
the course of action contemplated. But, as the Preamble to the
Canons states, "No code or set of rules can be framed, which will
particularize all the duties of the lawyer in the varying phases of
litigation or in all the relations of professional life."
As we said in NJ. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics,
Opinion 22, 87 N.J.L.J. 13 (1964), an attorney should so conduct
himself as to be above suspicion. It is almost inevitable that,
with his partner an assistant prosecutor in one county, action on
the part of the inquirer against the prosecutor in another county
to permit the vacating of a bail bond, forfeiture, or similar
action, will give rise to certain unfavorable interferences that
the position of the inquirer's partner in the prosecutor's office
of the adjoining county will in some way be of assistance to him.
In a sense, counsel in arguing against the forfeiture of a bail
bond will be arguing on behalf of the defendant and against the
State. Such a position could be considered as in violation of R.
1:26-3(a), which rule is made applicable to partners of county
prosecutors and their assistants by R.1:26-4.
It is important for the proper administration of justice that
situations which could cause such inferences to arise be avoided.
As was stated in the above-cited opinion, lawyers ought to conduct
themselves in such a way as not to impair the confidence of the
community in the administration of justice. Thus, we believe that
counsel should not pursue the course of conduct described.
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