North Carolina’s Superior Courts are the general jurisdiction courts for the state. They are also the oldest courts having been established in 1777. Superior Courts hear both civil and criminal matters. There are five divisions of Superior Courts spread over 48 judicial districts in the state.
Judges who sit on the benches in Superior Court rotate to each of the districts every six months. This model promotes fairness and justice and eliminates any conflicts of interest or bias. Each district has a senior Superior Court judge who has additional supervisory and administrative responsibilities. Each district also has a court clerk assigned to assist with caseload and support.
The types of cases heard in Superior Court are felonies, civil cases of more than $25,000, contract disputes, tort cases, real property cases, civil appeals, criminal issues, and exclusive probate/estate cases. These courts also resolve minor infractions and misdemeanor appeals from District Courts. Some cases are processed using a 12-person jury, and others are resolved with a judge.
Superior Courts also have a special division called Business Court. There are four Business Court locations in North Carolina. These courts handle significant, complicated corporate and commercial law issues and cases. These cases are assigned to Business Court by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. A trial resolves these matters.
North Carolina’s Judicial Branch website is well organized for patrons of the court and has quick links to court dates and the master calendar, judicial maps and a court locator feature along with particular areas of interest to guide users through the process of divorce, adoption, domestic abuse, civil lawsuits, small claims and other types of self-represented legal matters. For the last year filed, North Carolina’s Superior Courts reported 17,044 civil cases, 75,327 probate/estate cases, 131,101 criminal issues and 39,016 cases for other types of special proceeding cases.