Charles was born and raised in a small town in southwestern North Dakota.  Bismarck, however, has been his home for three decades, and it is where he and his wife Melanie, with the help of several dogs, raised their three children.

Charles joined the firm after twenty-six years in state government, where for twenty-three years he was Director of the North Dakota Attorney General’s Division of Natural Resources & Indian Affairs.  His division provided general counsel and litigation services to state officials on matters concerning oil and gas, state-owned land and minerals, water resources, environmental protection, wildlife, agriculture, federal lands, corporate farming, unclaimed property, and Indian law.

During his time with the Attorney General’s Office, Charles served as lead counsel for the Oil & Gas Division, Board of University & School Lands, State Water Commission, State Engineer’s Office, Department of Agriculture, and Game & Fish Department.  As attorney for these agencies, Charles assisted in ensuring compliance with the law regulating water resources, agriculture, hunting and fishing, and the oil and gas industry.  He also served as the Oil & Gas Division’s Hearing Officer, presiding over about 2,000 regulatory hearings.  His work for the Land Board involved quiet title actions, mineral and surface leasing, and oil and gas royalty issues.  Charles advised and represented the State Water Commission and State Engineer in matters concerning interstate and international rivers, navigable rivers and lakes, water distribution projects, and water control facilities.  His Indian law work involved criminal, civil, and regulatory jurisdiction in Indian Country, as well as reservation boundaries, aboriginal hunting and fishing rights, and Indian gaming.

On behalf of the state, Charles authored a number of appellate briefs and regularly appeared before the N.D. Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He also prepared federal court amicus briefs—joined by numerous other states—on issues of national and regional concern.

During most of his career in state government, Charles served as North Dakota’s legal representative on the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and as the Attorney General’s representative on the Western Attorneys General Litigation Action Committee. Charles served as the committee’s chairman for two years.

Charles’ practice with Pearce Durick primarily includes the following areas: oil and gas, real property, water resources, and tribal law and jurisdiction.


  • North Dakota
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • United States District Court, District of North Dakota
  • North Dakota Supreme Court and North Dakota District Courts
  • Fort Berthold Tribal Court


  • United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
  • United States District Court, District of Columbia
  • United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Court
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Tribal Court
  • Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe Tribal Court


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Law – University of Edinburgh
  • Master of Laws – University of London
  • Juris Doctor – University of North Dakota
  • Bachelor of Arts – Jamestown College

Professional Activities

  • Underground CO2 Storage – Faculty
  • Criminal Jurisdiction in Indian Country – Faculty
  • North Dakota State Bar Association, Water Law Seminar – Faculty


  • Jim Jones Public Service Award – Conference of Western Attorneys General
  • Lawyer of the Year – North Dakota Attorney General’s Office
  • Public Service Award – North Dakota Lignite Energy Council

Publications + Presentations


Charles is a contributing author to the Conference of Western Attorney General’s 2014, 2015, and 2016 editions of the American Indian Law Deskbook, published by Thomson Reuters.  He served on the Editorial Committee and as a chapter author and chapter editor for the first four editions of the Deskbook published in 1993, 1998, 2004, and 2008 by University Press of Colorado.

Charles’ published articles include:

  • Surface Waters and Farmers: Sharing Land Management with the Federal Government, 42 Mitchell Hamline Law Review 1068 (2016), co-authored with Jennifer L. Verleger
  • Indian Reserved Water Rights: Impending Conflict or Coming Rapprochement Between the State of North Dakota and North Dakota Indian Tribes, 85 N.D. Law Rev. 1 (2009)
  • North Dakota Waterways: The Public’s Right of Recreation and Questions of Title, 64 N.D. Law Rev. 7 (1988)
  • The North Dakota Garrison Diversion Project and International Environmental Law, 60 N.D. Law Rev. 603 (1984)