On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order reprimanding Jersey City attorney Santo V. Artusa, Jr. for gross negligence and lack of diligence in a client matter.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Santo V. Artusa, Jr.,” with case no. 088662.

The charges cited New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 1.1(a) and 1.3. 

The reprimand stems from a recommendation by the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board on September 17, 2023. In the underlying matter, Artusa was retained in February 2018 by Andrew J. Daniels, Jr. to handle a guardianship proceeding for Daniels’ adult son. Artusa was paid $1,500 but failed to diligently pursue the matter. He filed an initial guardianship petition that was rejected by the Passaic County Surrogate’s Court for numerous deficiencies. Despite detailed guidance from the court on how to correct the errors, Artusa did not take steps to file an amended petition.

Artusa also failed to promptly communicate with Daniels about the status of the matter or refund the $1,500 fee after Daniels requested it back in December 2018 due to Artusa’s lack of progress on the case over ten months. This caused Daniels additional stress and anxiety, as the guardianship was still needed for his son’s ongoing medical care. Daniels had to pursue the matter on his own and eventually file a complaint in small claims court to recoup his fees before Artusa refunded the money.

In its decision, the Disciplinary Review Board found clear and convincing evidence that Artusa’s conduct violated the New Jersey RPC. It was determined his initial email about fees satisfied the writing requirement under RPC 1.5(b) regarding fee basis.

Several mitigating factors for Artusa were presented to the Board, including charitable work, substance abuse issues, personal problems, and acceptance of wrongdoing. However, the Board noted Artusa had received a prior censure from the Supreme Court in 2021.

As a result of these violations, the high court issued an order reprimanding Artusa and requiring him to provide proof of his current fitness to practice law and continuing alcohol treatment before reinstatement from his recent suspension for failing to comply with fee arbitration awards in three client matters. He was also ordered to reimburse administrative costs, marking another sanction for Artusa in his legal career.

According to avvo.com, Mr. Artusa Jr. is a divorce & separation attorney in Jersey City, New Jersey. He attended the Rutgers Law Newark, graduating in 2009. He acquired his license in New Jersey in the same year.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.