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NJ troopers continue fight to practice law

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  • NJ troopers continue fight to practice law

    New Jersey state troopers with law degrees are taking their legal quest to be allowed to practice law to a higher court.

    State police unions say that about 30 troopers have graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam.

    But two years ago, Attorney General Anne Milgram said it would be a conflict of interest for them to practice law on the side.

    A federal judge agreed that there could be conflicts.

    Union lawyer Michael Bukosky says there's no conflict if troopers are doing non-criminal work, such as drafting wills or overseeing real estate closings.

    He's asking the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to weigh in.

    New Jersey State Police troopers graduating on June 24. State Police unions are arguing that a state policy has effectively disbarred troopers who want to privately practice law.
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    Re: NJ troopers continue fight to practice law

    Michael Bukosky, lawyer for the police unions, said the troopers' legal work -- such as drafting wills or helping with real estate closings -- is completely unrelated to criminal issues.

    "There has never been a problem," he said. "It's more likely that a comet is going to hit the Statehouse."

    The unions are arguing the state's policy has effectively disbarred the troopers.

    "If you analyzed the case through that lens, the outcome would be much different," said Bukosky, who said he will file a brief in about a month. The attorney has filed a notice of appeal, and the case is headed for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

    "An appeal doesn't change our opinion of the ethics guidelines," said David Wald, spokesman for Attorney General Anne Milgram.

    Bukosky said the state encouraged troopers to get law degrees and shifted them into positions within the State Police where their knowledge would be put to good use. But the troopers also were able to privately practice civil law.

    "They feel like they've been betrayed," he said. "A promise was made, and a promise was broken."

    He said up to 30 troopers have passed the bar.
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