Link to original                                          99 N.J.L.J. 298
                                        April 8, 1976


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest
Adjustment Board Member
Prosecuting Municipal Court Appeal

    The inquirer has been appointed an alternate member of a municipal zoning board of adjustment. Previously he had represented a defendant in the municipal court of the municipality in a quasi criminal matter, and had appealed to the county court from a conviction. The county court having affirmed, he asks whether his appointment to the board of adjustment operates to disqualify him from prosecuting an appeal to the Appellate Division.
    In Opinion 322, 99 N.J.L.J. 126 (1976) we referred to DR 9-101 and quoted from EC 8-8:
        A lawyer who is a public officer, whether full or part-time, should not engage in activities in which his personal or professional interests are or foreseeably may be in conflict with his official duties.

    These situations rarely lend themselves to objective resolution. In Opinion 214, 94 N.J.L.J. 600 (1971), we declared that a lawyer must "avoid all situations that might reasonably lead the public to conclude that he has used the influence of his office to serve private interests or which otherwise cast doubt upon his fidelity to the municipality which he serves."

    Since the matter in question left the jurisdiction of the municipal court before the inquirer was appointed to the board of adjustment, and considering that the Appellate Division review will no doubt be based solely upon the record and the applicable law, where it does not appear that the offenses in any way related to board of adjustment functions, it seems that there can be no reasonable conclusion by the public that the attorney in any way compromises his fidelity to the municipality in pursuing the matter to its conclusion in the appellate courts.

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