Worley v. Moore

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court disqualifying Defendants’ counsel under North Carolina Rule of Professional Conduct 1.9(a), which balances an attorney’s ethical duties of confidentiality and loyalty to a former client with a party’s right to its chosen counsel. Rule 1.9(a) permits disqualification of an attorney from representing a new client if there is a substantial risk that the attorney could use confidential information shared by the client in the former matter against that same client in the current matter. The Supreme Court held (1) rather than applying an objective test as to the scope of the representation and whether the matters were substantially related, the trial court disqualified Defendants’ counsel based on the former client’s subjective perception of the past representation, which Rule 1.9(a) prohibits, as well as the now replaced “appearance of impropriety test”; and (2) therefore, the trial court applied the incorrect standard under Rule 1.9(a) in disqualifying Defendants’ counsel. View "Worley v. Moore" on Justia Law