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                                         101 N.J.L.J. 289
                                        March 30, 1978


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest - Municipal
Judge's Firm Suing Municipality

    We are requested to render an opinion concerning the continued participation by a law firm in an action against a municipality where one of the partners of the firm is the part-time municipal court judge.
    Rule 1:15-1(c) does not prohibit a part-time municipal court judge from pursuing civil actions in any court. None of the applicable sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct incorporated in the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, with which a municipal court judge must comply, precludes the judge or his partners from representing clients in actions against the municipality. Although no conflict of interest would actually exist, we are troubled by the possible appearance of a conflict to the average lay person. While a municipal court judge is independent from the governing body of the municipality we do not
believe the average person would realize that. Lay persons think of the municipal court judge, who is paid from municipal tax funds, as being a member of the "official family."     Since the average person would assume that a conflict does in fact exist, there would be the appearance of a conflict and the inquirer should not continue to represent parties who are engaged in actions against the municipality in which his partner is municipal court judge. See
our Opinion 263, 96 N.J.L.J. 1237 (1973), and Opinion 67, 88 N.J.L.J. 81 (1965).

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