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                                         113 N.J.L.J. 400
                                        April 12, 1984


Appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court


Conflict of Interest
Assistant County Counsel Serving
as Mayor of Municipality within County

    This inquiry is whether it is proper for an assistant county counsel to serve simultaneously as the mayor of a municipality in the same county. We think the question is answered squarely by In re Opinion No. 415, 81 N.J. 318, 327 (1979), in which the Supreme Court held that "[a]n attorney, his partner or associate may not be counsel to a municipality and to the county in which it is located." After outlining numerous areas in which the respective interests of a county and a municipality may conflict, the Court said:
        A municipal attorney has a duty to further that municipality's public interest, whereas county counsel is bound to advance the public interest of the county. As we have observed, these interests may frequently be antagonistic. Id., at 326.

    If a county counsel cannot also serve as attorney for a municipality in the same county because the respective duties of the two offices may engender a conflict of interests, it follows that he must be precluded from serving as mayor of the municipality for the same reason. The mayor has no less and perhaps even more of an obligation than that of the municipal attorney to further the interests of his municipality vis-a-vis those of the county. Accordingly, we hold that this inquiry is controlled by the rationale of In re Opinion No. 415, supra, and that an attorney cannot properly hold the position of Assistant County Counsel and mayor of a municipality of that county at the same time but should choose between them.

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