Jon handles a broad range of business litigation, with an emphasis on media and intellectual property issues. In his media practice, he is involved in all aspects of representation of national and North Carolina media clients, including newspapers, radio stations and television stations. He has experience handling trade secrets, copyright and trademark litigation. He has taught seminars on mass media and communications law at Wake Forest University Law School. In 2012, Jon led a team providing a “legal hotline” for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
Jon is an active member of the Charlotte community. He currently serves on the board of trustees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library, and is a member of the University of North Carolina Press Advancement Council. He is the past Board Chair for WFAE, Charlotte’s public radio station. He is a past president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, and a past board member of the MCB and the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation. He also served on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Board of Governors. He previously served as a board member of Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, as a board member of the North Carolina Humanities Council, as a member of the board of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, as a member of the North Carolina Trust for Public Land Advisory Board, and is the past board chair and a former board member of Hospice of Charlotte, Inc. (now Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region).
Jon enjoys tennis, fly-fishing, and wildlife photography. He is the author of the novel Code of the Forest.
- Duke University School of Law, JD, 1978
- Princeton University, AB, magna cum laude, 1972
- Author, "GateHouse Media and Fayetteville Observer Win 2-Year Battle to Unseal Files in Abuse Case," Media Law Resource Center MediaLawLetter, November 2019.
- Author, "Lessons from our Roots," Mecklenburg County Bar Newsletter, May 2019.
- Author, "Blanket Sealing Order Violates First Amendment and NC Open Court Rules," Media Law Resource Center MediaLawLetter, December 2018.
- Speaker, “Freedom for the Thought We Hate – A Current Look at the First Amendment,” Queens University Senior Scholars Program, May 2018.
- Author, “Books of Significance – Simple Justice,” North Carolina State Bar Journal, September 2017.
- Speaker, Wake Forest University, Constitution Day Lecture, “Free Speech Under Siege: The Importance of Freedom of the Press in a Free Society,” September 14, 2017.
- Author, “Myths of Mediation – Three Dangerous Myths About NC Superior Court Mediations,” North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, May 24, 2016.
- Author, “Sullivan’s Ongoing Import,” Charlotte Observer, March 8, 2014.
- Author, North Carolina Federal Court Applies Single Publication Rule to the Internet, Media Law Resource Center MediaLawLetter, April, 2013.
- Author, Court Rejects Murder Defendant’s Subpoena for Outtakes, Media Law Resource Center MediaLawLetter, May, 2011.
- Co-author, “50-State Survey of Libel Law,” Media Law Resource Center, North Carolina Chapter, 1983-present; Fourth Circuit Chapter, 2003-present.
- Author, “The News Reporter’s Privilege,” The North Carolina Media Law Handbook, July 2012.
Author, Judge John J. Parker profile, The North Carolina Century, Tar Heels Who Made a Difference 1900-2000, University of North Carolina Press.
- Represented Gray Communications and WBTV, Inc. in opposing motion for temporary restraining order brought by state District Court Judge seeking to prohibit television station from broadcasting news reports about her. The plaintiff alleged the anticipated broadcast would contain false and defamatory statements about her. After briefing and hearing, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion on grounds that entry of the order sought would violate the First Amendment. (2020)
- Represented Gray Media Group, Inc. and WBTV in persuading judge who had entered ex parte “prior restraint” order prohibiting television station from scheduled broadcast of consumer investigative report about local towing company to hold expedited hearing and dissolve the order, allowing segment to be aired as scheduled. (2019) Read related article here.
- Represented Paxton Media Group and the News-Topic (Lenoir, N.C.) in persuading court to unseal civil file which it had sealed in its entirety in case involving claim by minor student against local school district. (2019) Read related article here.
- Represented book publisher and other defendants in libel action in federal court brought by book’s subject. The case was resolved prior to the filing of responsive pleadings. (2019)
- Represented The Fayetteville Observer (GateHouse Media Inc.) in winning a December, 2018 reversal of a trial court order sealing in its entirety a civil case file, including the names of the defendants, brought by John Doe minor plaintiffs against politically prominent North Carolina businessman accused of sexually molesting minor plaintiffs. The Court of Appeals opinion provided a detailed analysis of the constitutional standards to be applied by a trial court considering the sealing of civil court records and provides strong direction to N.C. trial courts related to the sealing of court records and proceedings. Doe v. Doe, 823 S.E.2d 583 (N.C. App. 2018) In September 2019, the trial court, on remand, ordered unsealed the entire file, including the complaints and settlement agreement, except for the identities of the minor plaintiffs. John Doe 15 v. Lallier et al, LEXIS 117 (N.C. Superior Ct. 2019).
- Represented The Charlotte Observer and its Investigations editor Doug Miller in obtaining court orders in several cases, over objections by District Attorney and individual police officers, directing release by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department of body camera and dashboard camera videos of fatal shootings of suspects by police officers. In re Miller, 45 Media Law Reporter 1243 (N.C. Superior Ct. January 26, 2017); In re Miller and Dawkins, 45 Media Law Reporter 2480 (N.C. Superior Ct. October 3, 2017); In re Miller, 46 Media Law Reporter 1395 (N.C. Superior Ct. March 2, 2018).
- Represented Raycom Media, Inc. and WBTV, LLC in successful public records lawsuit seeking access to text messages of Union County Sheriff’s Office deputies, resulting in UCSO (1) conducting forensic searches of its cellphones, (2) producing to WBTV text messages sought, and (3) UCSO’s adopting a new policy for preserving text messages of its employees, as well as Union County’s payment of $57,000 to WBTV in attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in the litigation. (2018)
Represented The Fayetteville Observer in having dissolved a gag order on trial participants and an order sealing court documents in a high profile criminal matter in South Carolina. 45 Med. L. Rptr. 2002 (S.C. Cir. Ct. May 23, 2017)
Represented The Charlotte Observer and The Associated Press in unsuccessful efforts to dissolve gag order on trial participants and potential witnesses and to unseal court records in a high profile criminal case in North Carolina state court. (2017)
Represented The Charlotte Observer in obtaining an order unsealing an affidavit in federal court revealing the existence of a $50 million Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Charlotte businessman Richard Siskey who committed suicide days after the sealed affidavit was filed. In re 3545 Sharon Rd., Charlotte, NC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26533 (W.D.N.C. February 24, 2017).
Represented The Charlotte Observer and a coalition of nine local and national media organizations in successfully seeking immediate access to dash camera and body camera recordings related to police involved fatal shooting of criminal suspect Keith Scott in Charlotte that resulted in several days of street demonstrations. (2016)
- United States of America v. David H. Petraeus., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73896, 43 Media L. Rep. 2147 (W.D.N.C. June 8, 2015). (On behalf of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and numerous news organizations, successfully moved to unseal sentencing memoranda and letters of support submitted to the court in connection with the sentencing of former CIA Director David Petraeus related to charges of unauthorized disclosure of classified material.)
- United States of America v. Patrick D. Cannon, 2015 WL 3751781 (W.D.N.C. June 16, 2015). (On behalf of The Charlotte Observer, successfully moved to unseal sentencing memoranda, including medical and mental health information related to recommendation for participation in prison substance abuse program, and letters of support submitted to court in connection with the sentencing of former Charlotte Mayor Patrick D. Cannon on charges involving bribery and public corruption.)
- State of North Carolina v. Randall Kerrick, 43 Media L. Rep. 2149 (N.C. Superior Ct. 2015) (On behalf of a coalition of news organizations, won denial of motion by defendant police officer to have gag order imposed on lawyers, law enforcement officials and court personnel in criminal case involving officer who shot and killed unarmed suspect. We also successfully moved for access to completed juror questionnaires during voir dire in criminal trial and for access to sealed transcripts of depositions taken in parallel civil case brought by estate of the deceased suspect.),
- In re Ragavage, 43 Med. L. Rptr. 1057 (N.C. Super. Ct. 2014). (obtained order granting motion to quash subpoena to television news reporter and award of attorneys’ fees and costs against civil litigant which sought reporter’s testimony.)
- Marcus J. Johnson v. The City of Raleigh, ABC 11, et al. (E.D.N.C. 2013) (obtained dismissal on statute of limitations grounds of defamation claim arising from article posted on television station website based on application of the single publication rule).
- State of North Carolina v. Jonathan Fitzgerald, 39 Med. L. Rep. 2251 (2011). Obtained order quashing subpoena to documentary producer for ITV Studios, Inc., which was subpoenaed by a criminal defendant to produce all raw video footage and reporters’ notes in a capital murder case. The court refused to allow the defendant to use a criminal discovery statute to obtain the same information.
- Advanced Internet Technologies, Inc. v. Fayetteville Publishing Company (N.C. Superior Ct.). Obtained court order denying plaintiff’s attempt to have newspaper (and other Internet service providers) disclose identities of anonymous third-party posters to websites. Court refused to require disclosure.
- United States v. Demario James Atwater, (M.D.N.C. 2010). Opposed subpoena duces tecum to network-owned television station from capital murder defendant for copies of all aired broadcasts and all articles and comments posted on station website; court quashed subpoena as overbroad and burdensome.
- State of North Carolina v. Demeatrius Montgomery, (N.C. Superior Ct. 2010). Trial court, over objections of prosecutor and murder defendant, granted The Charlotte Observer’s motion for contemporaneous access to transcripts of audio and video recordings of 911 tapes and police communications played to jury during trial of defendant charged with murder of two Charlotte police officers.
- Obtained dismissal of series of federal and state court complaints alleging fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices claims against national bank brought by borrowers who purchased undeveloped resort properties.
- Obtained dismissal of defamation and related claims against law firm arising from email communications about plaintiffs.
- Obtained dismissal of Internet defamation and related claims against publisher of international scientific journal.
- Obtained summary judgment for television station in libel suit brought by Daniel Green who was convicted of murdering the father of basketball star Michael Jordan.
- Obtained dismissal of third-party claims against television network in libel action arising from broadcast.
- Secured directed verdict for bank in case asserting bank had improperly accepted significant checks for deposit into wrong account.
- Defense of individual officers and directors of publicly traded company in derivative actions brought in state and federal court alleging company and employees had improperly “backdated” stock option grants.
- Defense of a newly hired chief executive for international agricultural chemical company against breach of contract and trade secret misappropriation claims brought by his former employer who unsuccessfully sought preliminary and permanent injunction against his working for the new employer.
- Representation of a national software company in litigation brought by a prospective business partner involving claims of trademark and copyright infringement and of trade secret misappropriation related to software for performance measurement in the health care industry.
- Recipient of the Ayscue Professionalism Award, Mecklenburg Bar Foundation, 2020.
- Named in The Best Lawyers in America, Litigation – First Amendment, 1991-2023; First Amendment Law, 1991-2023; Commercial Litigation, 1991-2023; Media Law, 2022-2023; Trusts and Estates, 2022-2023.
- Named to Business North Carolina's list of Legal Elite, Intellectual Property, 2022.
- Named to “North Carolina Super Lawyers,” Business Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, First Amendment/Media/Advertising, Thomson Reuters, 2007-2023.
- Selected for inclusion in America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: First Amendment, North Carolina, Chambers USA, 2007-2022.
- Recipient, William C. Lassiter First Amendment Award, North Carolina Press Association, 2000.
ASSOCIATIONS & ADMISSIONS
- North Carolina
- Western District of North Carolina
- Middle District of North Carolina
- Eastern District of North Carolina
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
- President, Mecklenburg County Bar, 2004-2005
- Board Member, Mecklenburg County Bar Foundation, 2010-2013
- Member, Board of Governors, North Carolina Bar Association, 2006-2008
- Chair, Mecklenburg County Bar Leadership Institute, 2007-2008
- Chair, Mecklenburg County Bar Access to Justice Campaign, 2005-2006