99 N.J.L.J. 715
August 12, 1976
Conflict of Interest
Appealing Client's Municipal Court
Conviction Defending Municipality in Civil Action
The inquiring attorney represented a client, charged with
driving while under the influence of alcohol, before a township
municipal court. Subsequent to that retainer the attorney was
engaged by the same township to defend it in four separate suits
brought by former municipal officials seeking reimbursement for
personal legal fees. The defendant was found guilty of driving
while impaired, and the attorney has taken an appeal. Is he
prevented from participating in the appeal because he also
represents the township in litigation against it?
In our Opinion 123, 91 N.J.L.J. 97 (1968), an attorney was engaged by a municipality solely to foreclose tax sale certificates. He inquired whether he could appear before any municipal body on behalf of private clients. We held that he was precluded from doing so while representing the municipality.
We do not perceive that the result should be any different because the matter is now on appeal to the county court from the municipal court. We therefore conclude that it would be improper for the inquiring attorney to appear on behalf of the private client in this litigation.