Charles E. Coble - Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP

Charles E. Coble

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2013
Phone: 919-839-0300

Charles Coble represents clients in a wide range of complex commercial litigation. He has successfully represented businesses and individuals in a host of settings, including complex business disputes, class actions, First Amendment and other media litigation, copyright infringement claims, employment law claims, including covenants not to compete, construction disputes, and North Carolina Business Court litigation. His practice includes trial court and appellate work at both the state and federal level. He has experience trying arbitrations ranging in scope from single-day to multi-week hearings, and he has both tried cases to jury and argued appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  He has argued numerous contested motions in North Carolina Superior Court and in the North Carolina Business Court.

Charles has special experience in communications and media law, primarily in representing broadcast, print, and other media clients in First Amendment and other media litigation. He has successfully represented clients defending against libel, defamation, and privacy claims, prosecuting Open Meetings Law, Public Records Act, and courtroom access cases and claims, and resisting subpoenas directed to reporters and media organizations.

Charles authors Brooks Pierce's Newsroom Law Blog and regularly speaks to journalists, public officials, students, and practitioners on these topics.

He is proficient in German.

Representative Cases with Published or Reported Decisions

  • News and Observer et al. v. Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority.  Represented local and national newspapers in federal case concerning placement of newsracks in airport terminal buildings.  District Court entered judgment in favor of newspapers, along with an award of attorneys’ fees, both of which were affirmed by U.S. Court of Appeals for Fourth Circuit.  Published decisions at 597 F.3d 570 (4th Cir. 2010) and 588 F. Supp. 2d. 653 (E.D.N.C. 2008).
  • Beaufort County Board of Education v. Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.  Represented local television station in challenge to gag order entered by trial court in high profile trial.  On appeal, North Carolina Court of Appeals struck gag order as unconstitutional and admonished trial judge.  Published decision at 184 N.C. App. 110 (2007).
  • Corr Services, Inc. v. Davidson County.  Represented small business in lawsuit against county over services contract.  North Carolina Business Court entered summary judgment in favor of small business.  Reported decision at 2004 NCBC 6, 2004 WL 2413420 (N.C. Super. Ct. Sept. 30, 2004).
  • SEANC v. N.C. Department of Treasury.  Represented broadcast and press associations as amici curiae in public records dispute.  Was allowed argument time before North Carolina Supreme Court, which reversed decision of North Carolina Court of Appeals as urged by amici curiae.  Published decision at 364 N.C. 205 (2010).
  • Dutcher v. Eastburn.  Represented publisher and author in libel case removed to federal court.  District Court entered order dismissing case for lack of personal jurisdiction.  Reported decision at 39 Media Law Reporter 1605, 2011 WL 1134666 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 26, 2011).
  • Kirkman v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co.  Represented defendant in putative class action pending in federal court.  District Court denied class certification and entered summary judgment for defendant.  Published decision at 220 F.R.D. 49 (M.D.N.C. 2004) and reported decision at 2006 WL 544303 (M.D.N.C. Mar. 6, 2003).

Honors & Awards

  • Recognized as a member of North Carolina's "Legal Elite" in the Young Guns category by Business North Carolina magazine, 2011-12
  • Recognized by North Carolina Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in Administrative Law and Business Litigation, 2010-12, Business Litigation, 2014-2015

Professional & Community Activities

  • Chairman, Raleigh Board of Adjustment
  • Vice-Chairman, Raleigh Board of Adjustment, July 2009 - March 2012
  • Member, Raleigh Board of Adjustment
  • Community Member, Wake County Board of Education Audit Committee
  • Member, North Carolina Bar Association
  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Wake County Bar Association
  • Section Council, Appellate Practice of the North Carolina Bar Association

Articles, Publications & Speeches

  • Co-author, Survey of North Carolina Privacy Law and Related Claims Against the Media, Media Law Resource Center 50-State Survey, Media Privacy and Related Law, 2015 
  • Author, Brooks Pierce's Newsroom Law Blog
  • "Online Speech and the First Amendment: Internet Defamation and other Digital Torts," University of North Carolina Festival of Legal Learning, February 2013
  • "AIA Continuing Education Seminar, Risk Management," American Institute of Architects, Triangle Section, October 2012
  • "Full-Disclosure" Workshops on N.C. Public Records Act and FOIA, organized by Carolina Public Press at Western Carolina University and UNC-Asheville, March 2012
  • Panelist, "Newsgathering Law: How to Stay Out of Trouble When You're Gathering Information for a Story," Online Media Legal Network, September 2010
  • Panelist, "How Much Do You Really Make? Applying the New Rules on Disclosure of Public Officials' Compensation," Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, March 2009
  • "A Legal Primer for Architects: Liability Risks and Contract Issues," AIA Triangle Seminar at the NC State School of Design, August 2008
  • "Newsroom Seminar," WRAL-TV, July 2006
  • "What You Need to Know About Public Records and Open Meetings," Research Triangle Park, March 2006
  • Panelist, "Open Meetings in North Carolina," University of North Carolina Festival of Legal Learning, February 2006
  • "Libel: Revisiting the Not-So-Obvious," Virginia Press Association, January 2006


Yale UniversityBA 1995Harvard Law SchoolJ.D. 1998
Raleigh Board of AdjustmentWake County Board of Education Audit Committee

Office Location

Wells Fargo Capitol Center, Suite 1700
150 Fayetteville Street
P.O. Box 1800
Raleigh, NC 27602
United States

Practice Areas

Commercial Litigation