North Carolina Case Law
The North Carolina state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in North Carolina is the North Carolina Supreme Court, which consists of seven justices. The Supreme Court reviews appeals of decisions by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations, and it may review appeals of decisions by state administrative agencies. Decisions by the North Carolina Supreme Court are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The middle level of the North Carolina state court system is the North Carolina Court of Appeals. This court consists of 15 judges, who review cases in three-judge panels. Most appeals of decisions by trial courts in North Carolina must pass through the Court of Appeals before reaching the Supreme Court.
The lowest level of the North Carolina state court system consists primarily of the North Carolina Superior Courts and the North Carolina District Courts. The Superior Courts are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also review appeals of decisions by District Courts. The jurisdiction of the District Courts is limited to certain types of cases. These include misdemeanors, infractions, juvenile proceedings, and civil matters with less than $25,000 at issue.
North Carolina also has certain other courts that review distinctive types of matters. These include the North Carolina Family Courts, the North Carolina Drug Treatment Courts, and the North Carolina Business Court. The Family Courts help the District Courts review matters related to children and domestic relations. The Drug Treatment Courts are designed to help certain people convicted of drug crimes receive treatment for substance abuse and ensure that they comply with their court-ordered treatment plans. The Business Court reviews business and commercial cases that are assigned to it by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.