Under the North Carolina Constitution, the Judicial Branch is established as a co-equal branch of state government with the legislative and executive branches.
North Carolina’s court system, called the General Court of Justice, is a state operated and state-funded unified court system. The General Court of Justice consists of three divisions: appellate, superior court, and district court.
The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NCAOC) is the administrative agency for the Judicial Branch. As such, it provides services and resources to help the unified court system to operate more efficiently and effectively, taking into account each courthouse’s diverse needs, caseloads, and available resources. Services include providing administrative support to the more than 500 independently elected officials in the Judicial Branch.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court appoints a director to supervise the NCAOC. General Statute 7A-343 sets forth the duties of the director, which include budgeting and authorizing expenditures from appropriated funds, identifying staffing needs statewide, procuring and distributing equipment and supplies, and prescribing uniform practices for clerks. The director also makes recommendations for the overall improvement of the Judicial Branch.
All operating expenses of the Judicial Branch are paid by the state, including salaries and travel expenses of all court officials, juror, and witness fees, and equipment and office supplies for the statewide judicial system. Counties and cities, however, are responsible for providing courtrooms and related judicial physical facilities.