James F. Wyatt, III is recognized as one of North Carolina's leading trial lawyers. James attended Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1978 with summa cum laude honors. He graduated from Duke Law School in 1982, after being the Executive Editor of the Duke Law Journal and a member of the Moot Court Board. After graduating from Duke Law School, he clerked for United States District Court Judge Harold L. Murphy in the Northern District of Georgia. He then worked for three years with Bobby Lee Cook, Sr. of Summerville, Georgia. Mr. Cook is the real life lawyer who the television show “Matlock” is loosely patterned after. When working with Mr. Cook, James tried over 30 cases to verdict, ranging from a RICO trial to diverse federal and state cases, both civil and criminal. James opened his law practice in Charlotte in 1986, and has engaged in the trial of criminal and civil cases since then.
In 1991, at the age of 33, James was asked to present the topic of closing arguments at the North Carolina Criminal Defense “All Star” Seminar. In 1991, he also received an “AV” Martindale Hubbell rating and was listed in Martindale Hubbell's Register of Pre-Eminent Civil and Criminal Trial Lawyers. In 1992, he was named one of the six top young attorneys in Charlotte. In 1994, he was listed in Best Lawyers in America. In 2005, James was selected by his peers as the best criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina. In 2006, James was named one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in North Carolina. In 2007, James spoke at an “All Star Trial Advocacy” program sponsored by the federal court system.
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 devoted to recognizing 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).
In addition to his representation of individuals and businesses in white collar and criminal defense matters, James has represented numerous plaintiffs 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 NC False Claims Act. These cases have included issues of false and fraudulent billing of Medicaid and Medicare services, upcoding, improper referrals and illegal kickbacks.
James recently presented a seminar to counsel throughout the State of North Carolina concerning the North Carolina False Claims Act. In addition, James recently co-authored two publications concerning the North Carolina False Claims Act, including a comparison of this statute with the federal False Claims Act . These articles can be accessed here.
Practice Areas: White Collar Criminal Defense, Class Action, Qui Tam Litigation and Civil and Criminal Trial Practice
1986, U.S. District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina and U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit; 1982, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia and U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
SEC v Mangan — SEC brought civil charges based on alleged insider trading. Court granted summary judgment on several grounds.