On Wednesday, February 7, 2024, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order suspending Pleasantville attorney Christopher Santo Lipari from practicing law for three months.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Christopher Santo Lipari,” with case no. 088763.

The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct  1.1(a), 1.7(a)(2), 3.3(a)(1), 3.3(a)(5), 4.2, 4.3, 8.4(c), 8.4(d), and 8.4(e), which states:

Engaging in gross neglect.

Engaging in a concurrent conflict of interest.

Making a false statement of material fact to a tribunal.

Failing to disclose a material fact to a tribunal, knowing that the omission is reasonably certain to mislead the tribunal.

Communicating with a person represented by counsel.

Failing to correct an unrepresented person’s misunderstanding of the lawyer’s role when dealing with the person on a client’s behalf.

Engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.

Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

Stating or implying an ability to improperly influence a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

The order stems from recommendations made by the New Jersey Supreme Court Disciplinary Review Board in a decision filed in October 2023. According to the decision, Lipari engaged in numerous violations of New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct while serving as the municipal prosecutor for Somers Point and Galloway Township in 2018.

Specifically, the Review Board found that Lipari engaged in gross neglect of a legal matter had a conflict of interest, made false statements to a tribunal, failed to disclose material facts to a tribunal, communicated with a represented party without their attorney present, failed to correct a misunderstanding of his role, and engaged in conduct that was prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The violations arose from Lipari’s handling of a municipal court case involving a woman charged with driving while under the influence of drugs following a 2017 car accident. Though the woman was represented by counsel, Lipari communicated directly with her by text message for over a month about her case. He advised her on defense strategies and told her not to disclose their communications to anyone.

At an August 2018 hearing where Lipari prosecuted the case, he incorrectly cited legal precedent to justify dismissing all charges against the woman without disclosing key facts about the investigation to the judge. Specifically, he failed to disclose that she admitted to using PCP before the accident or that drug tests after the accident were positive for PCP.

Following the dismissal of the case, Lipari continued communicating improperly with the woman until she reported his actions to authorities, prompting an investigation. Lipari later consented to a contempt finding for his actions in the municipal court case.

Based on these violations, the Review Board recommended Lipari be suspended for three months. In its order, the New Jersey Supreme Court adopted that recommendation, ordering Lipari’s suspension effective March 8, 2024. He must also comply with requirements for suspended attorneys and reimburse administrative costs.

The Disposition states:

“It is ORDERED that Christopher Santo Lipari is suspended from the practice of law for a period of three months and until further order of the Court, effective March 8, 2024.”

According to avvo.com, Mr. Lipari is a civil rights attorney in Pleasantville, New Jersey. He attended the Widener University. He acquired his law license in New Jersey in 1997.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.