Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP
Kearns Davis is an acclaimed courtroom advocate, a veteran of both high-profile cases and sensitive matters resolved confidentially. A former federal prosecutor and a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he has tried jury cases at all levels of federal and North Carolina trial courts, and he represents clients in U.S. trial and appellate courts across the country. His clients have included public companies, private businesses, elected officials of both major parties, Hall of Fame athletes, Division I coaches, corporate executives, and professionals including doctors, accountants, professors, and numerous lawyers and law firms. He served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association in 2016-17.
Kearns founded the firm's white-collar defense and investigations practice in 2007. Among his most notable cases, he represented a Division I coach in Operation Varsity Blues, the nationwide college-admissions investigation, obtaining for his client the government's only agreement in those cases to dismiss all charges against a defendant. He successfully defended a former member of Congress against bribery and false statement charges. He won not guilty verdicts on all counts for a business owner indicted for mail fraud, money laundering, theft of government property, and obstruction. And he persuaded authorities to dismiss without publicity a false accusation against a Hall of Fame professional athlete.
The investigation phase is when companies and individuals have the greatest opportunity to shape the course of a matter, develop the facts and issues, and pursue an outcome that protects a client's interests and reputation. Kearns regularly represents businesses and professionals in government and criminal investigations related to health care, real estate, tax evasion, environmental issues, bank fraud, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud, public corruption, insider trading and securities, money laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud, false statements, immigration, federal benefits, computer crimes, embezzlement, false pretenses, identity theft, conspiracy, professional licensing, and other matters. He also conducts internal investigations on behalf of business, higher education, and other organizations.
Kearns has deep, broad experience in federal litigation and federal courts. He began his legal career as a law clerk to Chief Judge Sam J. Ervin, III of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, later served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, and in private practice handles cases in federal courts across North Carolina and the United States. In an era when federal trials are increasingly rare, fewer attorneys have the courtroom experience that can make the difference in successful litigation or negotiation of a federal case. Kearns is the rare lawyer whose federal trial experience not only is extensive, but includes both civil and criminal jury trials. He also has handled dozens of appeals in the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 4th, and 9th Circuits.
Businesses, their leaders, and their lawyers look to Kearns to represent them when the stakes are high. He has represented publicly traded corporations, privately held companies, financial institutions, small businesses, healthcare entities, municipalities, educational institutions, individuals, and the United States government in a myriad of matters including fraud, qui tam/whistleblower litigation, class-action defense, unfair trade practices, antitrust, shareholder disputes, breach of contract, environmental, real estate, construction, labor and employment, tax, intellectual property, transportation, and consumer protection. He regularly appears in business cases in federal courts, the North Carolina Business Court, other state courts, and arbitration proceedings.