87 N.J.L.J. 801
December 17, 1964
Conflict of Interest
Member of Municipal Parking Authority
An attorney serving as a member of a municipal parking
authority inquires whether he may properly represent other clients
in the municipal court of the same municipality or before any other
governmental agency of the municipality as long as his appearance
would not conflict with his responsibilities to the parking
authority. The members of the authority are appointed by the
While we are aware that under the statute (N.J.S.A. 40:11A-1 et seq.) a municipal parking authority is largely autonomous in nature (see Broadway National Bank of Bayonne v. Parking Authority of Bayonne, 40 N.J. 227 (1963)), nevertheless, the authority is by statute "an agency and instrumentality of the municipality or county creating it" (N.J.S.A. 40:11A-4). The statute provides that the authority may call upon the chief law officer of the municipality for legal services or may employ its own counsel (N.J.S.A. 40:11A-5).
In these circumstances, we believe that an attorney-member of a municipal parking authority cannot properly represent private clients before the municipal court or before any other public agency of that municipality. R.1:26-3(d) prohibits an attorney who is a member of the governing body of any municipality from practicing before its municipal court.
The same principle is equally applicable to the case of a municipal clerk who is an attorney. As such clerk, he is identified in the public eye with the affairs of the municipality in general.
In the same sense, a member of a municipal parking authority is identified in the public eye with the affairs of the municipality in general. He should avoid retainers from others where he is, or may appear to be, opposing action by the municipality on behalf of a private client.
Just as in the case of a municipal attorney representing a private client before a municipal agency, the losing litigant or the public in general will be troubled by the suspicion that his adversary's success in the matter was attributable to his position or influence as a municipal official. See N.J. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Opinion 4, 86 N.J.L.J. 357 (1963); Opinion 37, 87 N.J.L.J. 190 (1964); Opinion 52, 87 N.J.L.J. 610 (1964), and the other opinions cited therein.