100 N.J.L.J. 1
January 6, 1977
Conflict of Interest
Firm's Representing Defendants Investigated
While Associate on Prosecutor's Staff
We have two inquiries as to whether a firm may represent defendants who were investigated or under indictment during the time an associate of the firm was on the staff of the county prosecutor concerned with the matters.
In our opinion it may not. In re Biederman, 63 N.J. 396, (1973); State v. Rizzo, 69 N.J. 28 (1975); and the opinions of this Committee, Opinion 340, 99 N.J.L.J. 610 (1976); Opinion 276, 96 N.J.L.J. 1461 (1973); and Opinion 207, 94 N.J.L.J. 451 (1971). In these opinions we made it clear that the fact the assistant prosecutor had no connection whatever with the investigation or with the preparation of the case is immaterial.
It is suggested that since the information in some of the prosecutor's files may be fully discoverable by the defense, there is no reason to impose the bar. But the rule of the above cases and opinions is based on the unacceptable appearance of possible impropriety to the general public. And in such matters consent of the public official or agency fails to remove the risk of the appearance of impropriety.