On Friday, July 21, 2023, the Supreme Court of New Jersey reinstated attorney Gareth David De Santiago-Keene to the practice of law after a suspension for permitting the unauthorized practice of law by his client.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Gareth David De Santiago-Keene” with case no. 088438.

The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(d), 5.5(a)(2) and 8.4(d) which states:

Failure to comply with the recordkeeping requirements of Rule 1:21-6.

Assisting another in the unauthorized practice of law.

Engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice.

The Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.

In a decision dated August 30, 2021, it was stated the allegations stem from the Respondent’s representation of a client, Joanne Faber, in a tax appeal matter. The Respondent allowed Faber to create and control his eCourts account, which was used to file a tax appeal unrelated to the Respondent’s representation of Faber. Faber was in “complete control” of the eCourts account, and the Respondent failed to properly supervise her. The Respondent also agreed to represent Faber in the tax matter for no charge and directed her to consult with another attorney while he was unavailable.

The Decision states:

“In 2015, Joanne Faber retained a respondent to defend a foreclosure action filed against her by The Bank of New York. When the respondent attempted to file a response to the foreclosure complaint, however, he learned that he was required to use eCourts, which recently had been launched. Because the respondent was not “computer savvy,” he accepted Faber’s offer to create his eCourts account, which she completed on her personal computer. Faber advanced the respondent’s initial, required eCourts deposit using her personal funds, which resulted in her personal bank account being listed as the respondent’s eCourts business account.”

The Decision continues:

“Moreover, rather than use either of the respondent’s established e-mail addresses to create the eCourts account, Faber created a new e-mail account, which, thus, became associated with the account. Consequently, Faber was in “complete control” of the respondent’s eCourts account.”

The Decision further states:

“Respondent did not review the letter prior to Faber filing it; had not reviewed any of Faber’s medical records; and reviewed no records in connection with Faber’s Tax Court matter. As a result of Faber’s letter, Judge DeAlmeida adjourned the motion to dismiss until January 20, 2017, with a new trial date to be set following the motion hearing. On January 12, 2017, Judge DeAlmeida’s law clerk sent an email to the respondent, enclosing the court’s motion calendar, which listed Faber’s January 20th motion hearing at 9:30 a.m.; the respondent simply forwarded the clerk’s e-mail to Faber.”

The Disciplinary Review Board had filed its decision with the court, conclusively determining that De Santiago-Keene should be suspended from practicing law for three months. Therefore, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order implementing the suspension, effective April 25, 2022.

On July 19, 2023, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ordered De Santiago-Keene’s reinstatement to the practice of law, effective immediately, following a recommendation from the Disciplinary Review Board.

The Disposition states:

“It is ORDERED that Gareth David De Santiago-Keene, be restored to the practice of law, effective immediately.”

Mr. De Santiago-Keene attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School graduating in 1980. He practices in New Milford, New Jersey. He is licensed in New Jersey with license no. 200011980. His info can be found on martindale.com.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.