James F. Wyatt, III

Attorney Profile

Top Rated White Collar Crimes Attorney in Charlotte, NC

Wyatt & Blake, L.L.P.
402 W Trade St, Suite 101
Charlotte, NC 28202
Phone: 704-331-0767
Fax: 704-331-0773
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006 - 2022
Licensed Since: 1986
Practice Areas: Criminal Defense: White Collar (40%), Civil Litigation: Defense (30%), Business Litigation (10%), Class Action/Mass Torts: Plaintiff (10%), Securities Litigation (10%)
Attorney Profile

James F. Wyatt, III is recognized as one of North Carolina’s leading trial lawyers.  He is a member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Best Lawyers in America, has a Band 1 Ranking with Chambers and Partners, and has been named on numerous occasions as the best white collar defense and civil trial lawyer in both Charlotte and the State of North Carolina.

In 2020, James was selected by Super Lawyers as the Number One Lawyer in North Carolina, regardless of specialty or field.  This ranking was obtained based on peer nominations, research by Super Lawyers and a Blue Ribbon review process.

James was also recently featured in an article that focused on the James “Slim” Bouler federal criminal trial involving NBA star Michael Jordan, as mentioned in The Last Dance (ESPN television series).

James was recently named on Business North Carolina’s Power List 2021.  This section reflects only a sampling of some of the most powerful in the state, and focuses mainly on those chosen for leadership positions by their peers.

James attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1978 with a degree in Economics with highest honors.  He graduated in 3 ½ years, was the Salutatorian of his graduating class, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and many other honorary societies.  James obtained his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certificate after graduating from college. James graduated from Duke Law School in 1982, after being selected by his peers as the Executive Editor of the Duke Law Journal and as the Chairman of the Moot Court Board.

After graduating from Duke Law School, James clerked for United States District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy in the Northern District of Georgia.  Judge Murphy was one of Georgia’s leading trial lawyers and legislators before he ascended to the federal bench.  James then worked for three years with Bobby Lee Cook, Sr. of Summerville, Georgia.  The television show “Matlock” is patterned after Mr. Cook.  When working with Mr. Cook, James tried over 30 cases to verdict, ranging from criminal RICO and murder trials to diverse federal and state cases, both civil and criminal.  James opened his own law practice in Charlotte in 1986, and has engaged in the trial of criminal and civil cases since then, now specializing in white collar defense, whistleblower cases and class action cases.

In 1991, at the age of 33, James received an “AV” Martindale Hubbell rating and was listed in Martindale Hubbell’s Register of Pre‑Eminent Civil and Criminal Trial Lawyers. The same year, he was selected to speak on the topic of closing arguments at the North Carolina Criminal Defense “All Star” Seminar.  In 1992, he was named one of six top young attorneys in Charlotte by the Business Journal.  In 1994, he was selected to be a member of the Best Lawyers in America.  In 1999, he was selected as one of Charlotte’s Best Lawyers by Charlotte Magazine.  In 2004, James was selected by Business North Carolina as the best criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina.  James was selected by Best Lawyers as the White Collar Lawyer of the Year (2011); Banking and Finance Lawyer of the Year (2014); Criminal Defense: Non-White Collar Lawyer of the Year (2013-14); and Charlotte Criminal Defense White Collar Lawyer of the Year (2019).  In 2020, James was selected by Super Lawyers as the best lawyer in North Carolina, regardless of specialty or field.

Currently, James is listed in Best Lawyers in America in four separate categories: Bet‑The‑Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Non‑White Collar Criminal Defense and White Collar Criminal Defense. He is also a Member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an organization consisting of outstanding civil and criminal trial lawyers (with fewer than 1% of the lawyers in the United States and Canada becoming members of this organization after a thorough vetting process).  Additionally, James was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, whose membership is limited to 500 fellows from the United States “who have achieved a career of excellence through demonstrated skill and ability in jury trials.”

In addition to his representation of individuals and businesses in white collar and criminal defense matters, James has represented numerous parties in both class action litigation and qui tam lawsuits over the past 20 years.  In qui tam litigation, James has represented physicians, medical billing and coding personnel and other employees of medical practices in qui tam whistleblower lawsuits filed under the federal False Claims Act, the Anti‑Kickback Statute, the federal Physician Self‑Referral Statute (or Stark Law), and the North Carolina False Claims Act.  These cases have included issues of false and fraudulent billing, upcoding, improper referrals and illegal kickbacks.  He has been co‑counsel for the whistleblowers in two recent settlements of over $100,000,000 each, and a recent class action settlement exceeding $1 billion.

About James F. Wyatt, III

Admitted: 1986, Georgia

Professional Webpage: http://www.wyattandblakelaw.com/james-f-wyatt-iii-attorney.h...

Bar/Professional Activity

  • Law Clerk, United States District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy, Northern District of Georgia (Rome, Georgia) (1982 - 1984), 1982
  • Associate, Cook and Palmour, Summerville, Georgia (tried numerous civil and criminal cases in state and federal courts throughout the state of Georgia when working with Bobby Lee Cook, Sr.) (1984 - 1986), 1984
  • Attorney, Law Offices of James F. Wyatt, III, Charlotte, North Carolina (opened own law practice in 1986) (1986 - 2006), 1986
  • Criminal Law Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (President 1994-1995, Vice President 1993-1994, Secretary 1992-1993, Chairman/Lawyer’s Assistance Committee 1991-1992), 1991
  • Board of Directors, Davidson Habitat for Humanity (1991 - 1995), 1991
  • Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Bar’s Habitat for Humanity Project (first Habitat House built solely by a bar association in the nation) , 1991
  • Chairman/Lawyer's Assistance Committee, Criminal Law Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1992
  • Secretary, Criminal Law Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1993
  • Vice President, Criminal Law Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1994
  • President, Criminal Law Section of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1995
  • Chairman and Member, Federal Bar Advisory Council (1996 - 2001), 1996
  • Board of Governors, North Carolina Academy of Trial (1997-2000), 1997
  • Board of Governors, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2000
  • Chairman and Member, Federal Bar Advisory Council, 2001
  • Initial Chairman and Member of Board of Directors of Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina (2004‑2015), 2004
  • Chairman and Trustee – McKnight Education Trust Foundation (2006 - present), 2006
  • Partner, Wyatt & Blake, LLP, Charlotte, North Carolina (engaging in civil and criminal litigation with a focus on white collar investigations and litigation, whistleblower cases, and class actions) (2006 - present), 2006
  • Wyatt family founded and operates One By One Costa Rica, a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation that assists the Vuelo de Aguila church in San Jose, Costa Rica in reaching out to at-risk teens (onebyonecostarica.com) (2011 - present), 2011
  • Committee Member, Fourth Circuit CJA Appellate Panel Committee (appointed by the Fourth Circuit Court judges for 3 years), 2012
  • Chairman and Board member, La Escuelita San Alban (bilingual preschool for Hispanic (and some non-Hispanic) students that prepares preschoolers for cultural, academic and language changes they will face in kindergarten) (2016 to present) (escuelitasanalban.org), 2016
  • Board of Directors, Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina, Inc. (12 years), 2016

Educational Background

  • Duke Law School, J.D.; Executive Editor, Duke Law Journal; Member, Moot Court Board, 1982
  • Vanderbuilt University, B.S.; Salutation Honors, summa cum laude graduate with Highest Honors in Economics, 1978

Scholarly Lectures/Writings

  • Speaker, North Carolina Pre-Trial Motion Practice in Criminal Cases, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1988
  • Speaker, Selected Issues in Motions Practice in Narcotic Cases in State and Federal Court, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, 1989
  • Speaker, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956, 1957 (1986), The Money Laundering Statutes, North Carolina State Bar Association, 1991
  • Speaker, The Effective Use of Closing Arguments in Criminal Cases - "All Star" Seminar, North Carolina State Bar, 1991
  • Co-Author, Filing A Civil Rights Action As Part Of An Aggressive Criminal Defense, The Champion, Vol. XVI, No. 6 at 14-18, 1992
  • Speaker, Ethics of Fees, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1992
  • Speaker, The Role of Fed. R. Crim. Pro. 41(e) and Anomalous Jurisdiction in Civil Forfeiture Actions, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, 1992
  • Co-Author, Preserving The Record For Appeal, Trial, Vol. 29, No. 3 at 58-62, 1993
  • Speaker, Federal Business Crime for the Civil and Criminal Practitioner: 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956, 1957 (1986) The Money Laundering Statutes, North Carolina Bar Association, 1993
  • Speaker, The Federal Forfeiture Laws: Are They An Effective Law Enforcement Took or a License for White Collar Car-Jacking, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, 1994
  • Author, The Federal Forfeiture Laws: Effective Law Enforcement Took Or License for White Collar Car Jacking?, Trial Briefs, Vol. 26, No. 1 at 20-26, 1994
  • Author, The Role of Fed. R. Crim. Pro. 41(e) And Anomalous Jurisdiction in Civil Forfeiture Actions, Trial Brief, Vol. 25, No. 4 at 31-35, 1994
  • Author, The Role of Fed. R. Crim. Pro. 41(e) and Anomalous Jurisdiction in Civil Forfeiture Actions, Trial Brief, Vol. 25, No. 4 at 31-35, 1994
  • Speaker, Evaluating Relevant Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1994
  • Speaker, Understanding Key Concepts in Structured Sentencing, Prior Record Levels and Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1994
  • Speaker, Criminal Law: Skewering the Snitch, Demonstration of Cross-Examination of a Snitch, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1994
  • Speaker, Money Laundering Amendments, U.S. Sentencing Commission, 1995
  • Author, Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances Under North Carolina's Structured Sentencing Statutes, Trial Briefs, at 4-7, 1995
  • Co-Author, A Double Jeopardy Defense to an Impaired Driving Prosecution, Trial Briefs, at 28-30, 1995
  • Speaker, Federal Practice - New Developments, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers Convention, 1995
  • Speaker, What You Need to Know For Your Criminal Practice and Where to Get This Knowledge, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1995
  • Speaker, Closing Arguments: Securing Your Win, North Carolina Bar Association, 1995
  • Speaker, North Carolina's Controlled Substance Abuse and Tax Laws, North Carolina Academy of Public Defenders, 1996
  • Speaker, Cross-Examination of Financial Experts in Criminal Cases, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1996
  • Speaker, The Money Laundering Statutes, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law, 1996
  • Speaker, Money Laundering and Fraud Laws, Annual Meeting of Certified Public Accountants, 1996
  • Speaker, Getting to Not Guilty in a Drug Trial, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1996
  • Speaker, Pre-Indictment Tactics, Plea-Bargaining and Sentencing in State and Federal Court, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1997
  • Speaker, Criminal Law Update, Fourth Circuit Seminars, 1997
  • Speaker, Federal/Supreme Court Update, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers Convention, 1997
  • Author, Health Care Fraud, Trial Briefs, at 10-12, 1997
  • Speaker, White Collar Crime - Criminal Law Roundtable, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers Seminar, 1997
  • Speaker, Health Care Fraud, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1998
  • Speaker, Money Laundering Laws - Advanced Criminal Law Seminar, Duke School of Law, 1998
  • Co-Author, Criminal Justice: Looking to the Next Century, North Carolina State Bar Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1998
  • Speaker, The Scottsboro Boys - Lessons in Lawyering, Forsyth County Bar Awards Banquet, 1998
  • Speaker, Criminal Law Update, Fourth Circuit Seminars, 1998
  • Speaker, Recent Developments in Federal Law, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers Convention, 1998
  • Speaker, Recent Developments in Federal Law, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers Convention, 1999
  • Speaker, Emerging Trends in White Collar Prosecutions, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 1999
  • Author, Money Laundering Laws Use Is Too Wide, The Business Journal, Vol. 14, No. 32, 1999
  • Speaker, Substantive White Collar Law, Fourth Circuit Seminars, 1999
  • Speaker, Criminal Health Care Fraud Investigations, North Carolina Bar Association, 2000
  • Speaker, Criminal Health Care Fraud Investigations, North Carolina Bar Association, 2000
  • Speaker, Federal Sentencing Guidelines - Advanced Criminal Law Seminar, Duke School of Law, 2000
  • Speaker, Search & Seizure Checklist, North Carolina Bar Association, 2000
  • Speaker, Persuading the Jury That Your Client is Retarded Without a Psychiatric Expert, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2001
  • Speaker, Addressing Health Care Fraud and Abuse in North Carolina, National Business Institute, 2002
  • Speaker, Litigating Motions to Suppress - Criminal Practice 2002, Wake Forest University School of Law, 2002
  • Speaker, Criminal Health Care Fraud Investigations, Medicaid, Medicare and Medical Assistance in North Carolina (Lorman Education Services), 2002
  • Author, Voir Dire in Criminal and Capital Cases, Trial Briefs, at 24-31, 2002
  • Speaker, Evidentiary Issues in Criminal Cases - Practice Evidence 2003, Wake Forest University School of Law, 2003
  • Speaker, Prosecution and Defense of White Collar Crime in 2003: Are We On The Right Track? - Criminal Law Update, Fourth Circuit Seminars, 2003
  • Author, What To Do When the Police Come Knocking, The Business Journal, at 5,13, 2003
  • Speaker, Preparation of a Business Crime Case, North Carolina Bar Association, 2003
  • Speaker, Expert Witnesses - Criminal Practice 2015, Wake Forest University School of Law, 2005
  • Speaker, Jury Selection, All Star Trial Advocacy 2007, 2007
  • Speaker, Jury Selection 2008, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2008
  • Speaker, Parallel Civil and Criminal Proceedings, North Carolina Bar Association, 2008
  • Speaker, Criminal Consequences of Civil Actions, Mecklenburg County Bar Association, 2008
  • Speaker, High Level White Collar Investigations, North Carolina Bar Association, 2010
  • Speaker, White Collar Law Update, American College of Trial Lawyers Annual State Meeting, 2010
  • Co-Author, The Tar Heel State Steps Up Its Fight Against Fraud, The Legal Intelligencer, 2012
  • Speaker, Federal and North Carolina False Claims Act (webcast), North Carolina Bar Association, 2012
  • Speaker, Motions Practice and Parallel Proceedings, ABA Securities Fraud Conference, 2013
  • Speaker, The Art of Advocacy - Openings and Closings in a White Collar Crime Case, Institute of Continuing Legal Education Georgia, 2014
  • Co-Author, Qui Tam Litigation: What Makes a Difference?, NC Fellows of the Academy College of Trial Lawyers, 2015
  • Speaker, Qui Tam Litigation: A Practitioner's Symposium - White Collar Crime Southeast Region Subcommittee, ABA Criminal Justice Section, 2015
  • Speaker, Qui Tam Litigation: What Makes It Different?, NC Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers 2015 Annual Meeting, 2015
  • Speaker, The Evolving Trends of White Collar Criminal Law in North Carolina - 2016 White Collar Crime Program, North Carolina Bar Association Foundation, 2016
  • Speaker, Government Investigations of Health Care Entities - 2016 Health Care Symposium, North Carolina Society of Health Care Attorneys, the Federal Bar Association's Health Law Section, the Federal Bar Association's Eastern and Western North Carolina Chapters, and Parker Poe, 2016
  • Speaker, Presentations to Advanced Criminal Law and Trial Practice Classes (1990-present), Duke School of Law; UNC-Chapel Hill School of law; Wake Forest University School of Law, 2016
  • Speaker, Uncivil Litigation; Deposition Misbehavoir, Western District of North Carolina

Honors/Awards

  • 1991 to present., Preeminent Civil and Criminal Trial Attorney/AV Rating, Martindale Hubbell, 1991
  • "The Verdict Is In: Charlotte's Top Young Attorneys", Charlotte's Top Young Attorney, The Business Journal, 1992
  • 1994 to present., Best Lawyers in American, Best Lawyers, 1994
  • "These Are The City's Best Lawyers", Charlotte Best Lawyer, Charlotte Magazine, 1999
  • North Carolina's Best Lawyers, Legal Elite, Business North Carolina, 2004
  • North Carolina's Best Criminal Defense Lawyers, Legal Elite, Business North Carolina, 2005
  • 2005 to present., One of NC's Superlawyers, Charlotte Magazine, 2005
  • 2008 to present., Top Lawyers in Bet the Company Litigation, Corporate Counsel, 2008
  • 2008 to present., Elected to Membership; ACTL NC State Committee, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2008
  • Charlotte Criminal Defense: White-Collar, Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2011
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, 2013
  • Banking and Finance, Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2014
  • Charlotte Criminal Defense: Non-White Collar, Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2015
  • Nation's Top One Percent, National Association of Distinguished Counsel, 2015
  • Bet the Company Litigation, Top Lawyers, Corporate Counsel, 2016
  • Listed, The Best Lawyers in America, 2016
  • Litigation - White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations (North Carolina), Band 1 Ranking, Chambers and Partners, 2016
  • Elected to Membership, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2016
  • Preeminent Civil and Criminal Trial Attorney, Martindale-Hubbell's Bar Register, 2016
  • 2017 to present., International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Elected to Membership, 2017
  • 2017 to present, ranked regardless of specialty or field., Top 10 Lawyers in NC, Super Lawyers, 2017
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar for Charlotte. Awarded to the lawyer in a region and practice area who receives the highest feedback from their peers., Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2019
  • Ranking was obtained based on peer nominations, research by Super Lawyers and a Blue Ribbon review process., Number 1 Lawyer in NC, Super Lawyers, 2020

Pro bono/Community Service

  • March 1995: Testimony given to the United States Sentencing Commission concerning the money laundering laws, 1995
  • Purchased (in 1993), restored and preserved the Mayes House, a historically designated structure built in 1902.  The Mayes house is currently used as the law office of Wyatt and Blake LLP., 1993
  • Represented numerous clients in pro bono matters
  • United States v. Carbarcas: 500 hours of court appointed work in representing extradited drug kingpin at court’s request
  • State v. Mahatha: 800 hours of court appointed work in representing capital murder defendant through trial

Articles about James F. Wyatt, III appearing in Super Lawyers

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Office Location for James F. Wyatt, III

402 W Trade St
Suite 101
Charlotte, NC 28202

Last Updated: 7/27/2021

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