116 N.J.L.J. 244
August 15, 1985
Conflict of Interest - County Attorney Serving
as Municipal Prosecutor; and Township Solicitor
Serving as Attorney for County Welfare Board
We are asked to advise whether: (1) It is proper for an
attorney to be both County Attorney and Prosecutor of a township
within the same county; and (2) in the same township, may an
attorney (not the County Attorney) at the same time represent a
township as its solicitor and also be attorney for the County
For general discussion of the limitations on the County Attorney representing townships or subdivisions within the same county, see our Opinion 415, 103 N.J.L.J. 38 (1979); In re Opinion 415, 81 N.J. 318 (1979).
An analysis of the duties of the County Attorney and Township Prosecutor leads to the conclusion that the fact that one person occupies both offices will not lead to any conflict. As the County Attorney, the attorney is engaged only in civil activities for the County. As a prosecutor, he will be engaged in prosecuting only criminal matters for the township. No conflict between these positions is discerned.
With respect to the second question, it is our opinion that the attorney should not represent both the township and the County Welfare Board. The inquirer advised us that, in the latter situation, the attorney believes there is no conflict because most of the money obtained by the Welfare Board comes from the Federal government.
A reading of the various statutes on the subject of General Public Assistance indicates that there may very well be conflicts from time to time between the County Welfare Departments of the Township within the County. To cite one example, N.J.S.A. 44:8-104 provides that, where hospitalization has been furnished to a bona fide relief case in a County hospital, the cost of that hospitalization is certified to the Director of Township Aid for the Township in which the individual resided, and the Director of Township Aid must make payment to the County for the services rendered the welfare patient. This can obviously lead to disputes as to rates, necessity for hospitalization, length of stay, etc. Funds furnished under general public assistance programs come from several sources, federal, state and county and finally funnel down to the Township. Cf. Essex Cty. Welf. Bd. v. Dept. of Inst. & Agencies, 75 N.J. 232 (1978).
We, therefore, conclude that the attorney must relinquish either his position as Township Solicitor or attorney to the County Welfare Board.