115 N.J.L.J. 614
May 23, 1985
Associate of Municipal Court Judge
Sharing Fees in Criminal Matters Handled
in Counties Other Than where the Judge Sits
The inquirer requests an opinion as to whether an associate of a municipal court judge can ethically share with the judge fees which are generated by the associate in criminal matters. The judge, of course, cannot practice criminal law anywhere in the State. R. 1:15-l(b). Any partner or associate of such a judge may practice criminal law but not in the county where the judge sits. R. 1:15-4.
The associate or partner of the municipal judge may practice criminal law with the exception noted above, but the judge may not share in the fees generated from this practice.
We said in Opinion 359, 99 N.J.L.J. 1153 (1976), that where a lawyer was an associate or partner of a municipal judge, the latter could not share in fees earned by the former in criminal cases.
To permit the sharing of such fees would nullify the whole purpose of the Rule. Such conduct could easily lead to the belief that, while the associate is practicing criminal law outside of the county in which the judge sits, nevertheless, his association with the judge and the latter's relationship with other judges hearing criminal court matters might give some advantage to the judge's partner or associate.
This is the type of conduct which we found to be impermissible in Opinion 359, and we reaffirm our holding there.