North Carolina State Courts

Courts – State Courts – North Carolina

Highest Court

The highest court in North Carolina is the Supreme Court of North Carolina.  The Supreme Court consists of 7 justices. It has jurisdiction over (1) Hears direct appeals by right on sentence of death or life imprisonment for first degree murder. (2) Constitutional questions and dissent in Court of Appeals. (3) Appeals from Utilities Commission in general rate increases.

Intermediate Courts

Court of  Appeals
The Court of Appeals consists of 12 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Appeals from lower courts and certain administrative agencies, including Industrial Commission, and Commissioner of Insurance.

General Courts

Superior Courts
The Superior Court consist of 105 judges and 14 special judges.  It has jurisdiction over (1) Civil actions over $10,000. (2) Felonies, misdemeanor appeals.  (3) Adoptions, estates.
Appeals are trial de novo.
Appeals from most administrative agencies (excluding Utilities Commission, Industrial Commission, and certain others).
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Limited Courts

District Courts
The District Courts consists of 226 judges, 706 magistrates also serve. It has jurisdiction over (1) Civil actions $10,000 or less, domestic relations, and divorces. (2) Misdemeanors and felony preliminaries.
(3) Juvenile (4) Mental health.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Additional Information

Age Limits for Service as Justice or Judge.
A justice or judge of the General Court of Justice may not continue in office beyond the last day of the month that he/she reaches their 72 birthday.  However retired justices and judges may be recalled for periods of temporary service. (North Carolina General Statutes § 7A-4.20).

Supreme Court marshal
The Supreme Court may appoint a marshal.  The marshal shall have the criminal and civil powers of a sheriff and any additional powers to execute the orders of the appellate division in any county in North Carolina. The marshal may appoint assistants as authorized by the Administrative Officer of the Courts.  The Supreme court may appoint the Supreme court Librarian or other suitable employee to serve in the additional capacity of the marshal. (North Carolina General Statutes § 7A-12)

Supreme Court library; functions; librarian; library committee; seal of office
The Supreme court shall appoint a Librarian of the Supreme Court Library.  The librarian shall serve the appellate division of the General Court of Justice, but may also service the trial divisions of the General Court of Justice, state agencies, and the general public.  The Supreme Court Library shall be in Raleigh, except for branches for use by the Court of Appeals.  The librarian shall make rules and regulations for the library, adopt a seal, and operate a copy service. (North Carolina General Statutes  § 7A-13)

Unnecessary cover sheets
A cover sheet summarizing the critical elements of the filing is not needed in civil actions if the subsequent filing contained:
(1) A caption including the file number, on the first page thereof. (2) The name, address, and telephone number of the attorney filing the papers or, if the party filing the papers is not represented by an attorney, the name, address, and telephone number of the party filing the papers.  (3) A designation of the party represented by the attorney filing the papers, if an attorney is filing the papers.  (4) The name and designation of “plaintiff”, “defendant”, “petitioner”, “respondent”, or other relationship to the action of each other party to the action. (5) The code or codes, set forth on the first page next to the title thereof, corresponding to the codes located on the cover sheet forms promulgated by the Administrative Office of the Courts which apply to the filing.
(6) The signature of the attorney or party filing the paper and the date signed. (North Carolina General Statutes  § 7A-34.1)

Special sessions
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may order a special session of superior court of any county as needed and order any regular, special, or emergency judge to hold such a session.  The clerk of the superior court of the needed county will be notified if a jury is required.  Special and regular sessions have the same jurisdiction and powers.  (North Carolina General Statutes § 7A-46)

Emergency judge defined
An “emergency judge” is any retired  judge of the superior court recalled to active temporary duty.
(North Carolina General Statutes § 7A-50)

Small claim action defined
A small claim action is a civil action if: the amount does not exceed $4000 (according to G.S. 7A-243), the plaintiff has requested assignment to a magistrate in the manner provided in this article,  and the only principal relief is monetary, or the recovery of specific personal property, or summary ejectment or any combination of the foregoing in properly joined claims.  The seeking of the ancillary remedy of claim and delivery or an order from the clerk of superior court for the relinquishment of property subject to a lien pursuant to G.S 44A-4(a) does not prevent an action otherwise qualifying as a small claim under this Article from so qualifying. (North Carolina General Statutes § 7A-210)

Additional Powers of District Court Judges and Magistrates
In addition to jurisdiction and power assigned to a district court judge, the district court judge also has the power to administer oaths, punish for contempt, compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence, set bail, issue arrest warrants valid throughout the state, issue search warrants valid throughout the district of issue, and issue all process and orders necessary or proper in the exercise of his powers and authority, and to effectuate his lawful judgments  decrees. (North Carolina General Statutes § 7A-291)


Inside North Carolina State Courts