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Flamma v. Atlantic City Fire Department

Decided: May 9, 1990.

SAMUEL T. FLAMMA, APPELLANT,
v.
ATLANTIC CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT, RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 231 N.J. Super. 316 (1989).

For reversal -- Chief Justice Wilentz, and Justices Clifford, Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi, and Stein. Opposed -- None.

Per Curiam

The issue on appeal is whether counsel for a firefighters' union may represent a member of that union in a disciplinary proceeding in which another member will testify.

I

Appellant, Samuel T. Flamma, is a member of the Atlantic City Firefighters Union, Local 198, I.A.F.F. (Local 198). The Atlantic City Fire Department (ACFD) disciplined Flamma for

misconduct. After Flamma appealed to the Civil Service Commission, the matter was transferred to the Office of Administrative Law.

The ACFD moved to disqualify Flamma's attorney, John F. Pilles, Jr., who is also counsel for Local 198. Knowing that ACFD intended to call Deputy Fire Chief Lewis Janes, also a member of Local 198, Pilles at first voluntarily recused himself because he believed that State v. Galati, 64 N.J. 572, 319 A.2d 220 (1974), and Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics Opinion No. 320 (Supplement), 100 N.J.L.J. 1126 (1977), required him to do so. After reconsideration, however, he informed the administrative law judge that he felt recusal was unnecessary and that he intended to continue to represent Flamma until directed to withdraw.

Rejecting the claim that Pilles' role as counsel for Local 198 conflicted with his representation of Flamma, the administrative law judge denied ACFD's motion to disqualify Pilles. The chief administrative law judge affirmed that ruling. On interlocutory appeal the Appellate Division reversed and disqualified Pilles. 231 N.J. Super. 316, 555 A.2d 697 (1989).

We granted Flamma's motion for leave to appeal. 118 N.J. 185, 570 A.2d 953 (1989).

II

A

The Appellate Division held that State v. Galati, supra, 64 N.J. 572, 319 A.2d 220, requires the disqualification of Pilles. In Galati the defendant, a police officer, was indicted for offenses arising from an altercation during the attempted arrest of a motorist. The defendant's police partner, who had witnessed the events, was to testify for the prosecution. The defendant privately retained an attorney who regularly represented the ...


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