North Carolina Superior Court


Superior Court Judges

North Carolina’s superior courts are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. The superior court has original jurisdiction in all felony cases and in certain misdemeanor cases. Most misdemeanants, however, are tried first in district court and convictions may be appealed to the superior court for trial de novo by a jury.

Superior court also hears civil cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000 and it has jurisdiction over appeals from most administrative agencies. Regardless of the amount in controversy, the original civil jurisdiction of the superior court does not include domestic relations cases, probate and estates matters. Likewise, it does not hear certain special proceedings that are instead heard first by the clerk of superior court. Rulings of the clerk, however, are within the appellate jurisdiction of superior court.

North Carolina’s 100 counties are grouped into superior court districts. Each district has at least one senior resident superior court judge who has certain administrative responsibilities for his or her home district. Resident superior court judges are elected by statewide ballot to office for eight-year terms. In addition, the governor may appoint a limited number of special superior court judges pursuant to statute.

Superior court districts are grouped into eight divisions for the rotation of superior court judges. Within each division, resident superior court judges are required to rotate among the superior court districts and hold court for at least six months in each, then move on to their next assignment. Special superior court judges may be assigned to hold court in any county.

The chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, assisted by the Administrative Office of the Courts, makes all assignments of superior court judges. North Carolina’s constitution requires that at least two sessions of superior court be held in each county every year. The vast majority of counties have more than the constitutional minimum, with many larger counties having superior court sessions nearly every week in the year.

All felony criminal cases, civil cases involving more than $10,000 and misdemeanor and infraction appeals from District Court are tried in Superior Court. A jury of 12 hears the criminal cases. In the civil cases,juries are often waived.

Superior Court is divided into eight divisions and 46 districts across the state. Every six months, Superior Court judges rotate among the districts within their division. The rotation system helps avoid favoritism that might result from having a permanent judge in one district.

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