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                                         124 N.J.L.J. 106
                                         July 20, 1989


Appointed by the Supreme Court of New Jersey


Conflict of Interest:
Municipal Court Judge Sharing
Fee after Withdrawal from
Personal Injury Matter in which
Municipality is Named as Defendant

    The inquirer was retained in an automobile accident case to bring suit against the operator of a non-contact vehicle alleging that defendant negligently forced plaintiff's vehicle off the highway where it struck a utility pole. Upon investigation it appears that inquirer learned of facts which, if proven, tend to inculpate the municipality in which inquirer serves as the municipal court judge. Thereupon the inquirer properly withdrew and referred the matter to another lawyer with the consent of the client.
    We are told that both the client and the new attorney have agreed upon the proportion which the value of services performed by the inquirer bears to the total value of services rendered and to be rendered to the plaintiff in conformity with RPC 1.5(e)(1). The matter is governed by a written contingent fee agreement as required by subsection (c) of the same rule. We are asked initially whether inquirer may share in any fee which is a product of the claim against the driver of the non-contact vehicle, and we see no reason why this may not be done.

    However, as to the second question, i.e., whether inquirer may share in any fee which is the product of recovery against the municipality, we think it is equally clear that he may not do so for the same reasons that made it appropriate for him to withdraw from the matter in the first place.

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