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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Bill Sanders hired an attorney to represent him during his divorce from his wife, Joyce. Though he initially made some cash payments to his attorney, he eventually told his attorney that he could not pay her anymore. Bill and the attorney agreed that Bill would do some renovation work on the attorney’s home in exchange for a one-time credit on his bill. Soon after, Bill and the attorney agreed that Bill would conduct repairs and renovations on the attorney’s office to pay for the attorney’s services. The attorney notified Joyce of the arrangement. A month before the scheduled trial date, Joyce filed a motion to disqualify the attorney, claiming that, like all employers of parties in custody cases, the attorney would be a material witness. The trial court denied Joyce’s motion, but the appeals court granted a writ of mandamus ordering the attorney’s disqualification. Bill now files for a writ of mandamus with this court. HOLDING:Writ conditionally granted. The court notes that Disciplinary Rule 3.08 gives relevant guidelines to a disqualification determination. Under that rule, disqualification is appropriate only if the lawyer’s testimony is necessary to establish an essential fact. The court notes that a party seeking disqualification must demonstrate that the opposing lawyer’s dual roles as attorney and witness will cause the party actual prejudice. Joyce said she needed the attorney’s testimony to establish the extent of Bill’s obligation to furnish handyman services to the attorney in the future. She also said she needed to know about Bill’s employment schedule and whether it would affect his ability to care for their child or pay child support. The court finds that even assuming that such facts are “essential,” Joyce failed to explain why other sources from the record, such as Bill’s own testimony or the attorney’s billing records, do not establish the nature and extent of Bill’s obligations. The court then rejects Joyce’s assertion that Bill perjured himself at the temporary orders hearing when he said in November 2002 that a barter agreement did not exist, but then the attorney said the agreement started in October or December. The court notes both that the agreement evolved � so that there wasn’t an identifiable starting time � and that the attorney’s recollection of when the agreement started was cloudy, too. The court also notes its agreement with the dissent in the appeals court who said that in this bitterly contested divorce case, the trial court was in a much better position than the appellate court to evaluate the evidence, balance the competing interest, apply the law and reach a decision. OPINION:Per curiam.

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