Our good friend Haystacks Calhoun has concerns about the ethics behind Lou Magazzu’s professional relationship with Jane Jannarone. It is best to allow him to speak for himself.
My main concern here is Lou legally representing Jane. First we need to review some background. Back on 6 June 2010, MWatch reported on Lou’s new business (QES Energy). In this post, a copy of one of Lou’s business cards was provided that gave the company’s address as 1120 East Landis Avenue, which is an Exit Uptown Realty Office owned by Jane Jannarone. Lou’s company’s website (qesenergy.com/Contact/default.asp) gives his company’s address as “120 East Landis Avenue,” and, given all of the other typos on the company’s website, one can assume the address given on the website is an error for the address of Jannarone’s office. Later, MWatch, on 22 December 2010 (“Lou Gets Gas: A QES Energy Update”), reported that Lou was using a Vineland P.O. Box (812; the same P.O. Box used by numerous County Democratic interests) as his address. Of course, a P.O. Box is not a physical address and Lou has provided no other physical address other than that of Jannarone’s business address. So, based on available records, it can be concluded that Lou and Jane’s businesses are “shacking up,” if you will, as they both share an address.
OK, so now let’s look at New Jersey’s Rules Of Professional Conduct for attorneys (judiciary.state.nj.us/rules/apprpc.htm). In Rule 1.8. (Conflict of Interest: Current Clients; Specific Rules), there is the following:
“(i) A lawyer shall not acquire a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of litigation the lawyer is conducting for a client, except that the lawyer may: (1) acquire a lien granted by law to secure the lawyer’s fee or expenses, (2) contract with a client for a reasonable contingent fee in a civil case.”
If Lou’s business is still residing in Jannarone’s office, couldn’t it be argued that he does have an interest beyond his attorney fee? After all he is (or has) used Jannarone’s office space for his own business.
Furthermore, Lou and Jane—both elected officials — are politically joined at the hip and have been for a long time. Given this, is it a good idea for one of them to be legally representing the other? For example, these two are the only current freeholders who get health insurance from the county. They are supposed to be forfeiting it this June. However, won’t this forfeiture – a politically charged issue – actually benefit Jannarone in her upcoming alimony hearing since the elimination of this “perk” (the term used in J. Jannarone’s filing) will reduce her income, and thus potentially bolster her claim for the alimony re-instatement?
In the broader sense, politics costs money and Lou and Jane are no doubt a political couple. According to NJ ELEC records, Jane has never made political contributions for county offices, but her company Exit Uptown realty has, contributing 800 to the Cumberland County Democratic Organization in 2006 (interestingly, Exit also gave $600 to the Cumberland County Regular Republican Organization that year). Now Jane is trying to extract more money from her ex-husband, and Lou, by serving as her counsel, is trying to help her pull this off. Given the fact that their businesses have cohabitated and that they are so closely allied politically, can there be any doubt that Lou should not be representing her?