NC Chief Justice Mark Martin

RALEIGH – Chief Justice Mark Martin announced today the upcoming milestone anniversaries of the Judicial Branch. Between 2016 and 2019, North Carolina will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the unified court system, the District Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Administrative Office of the Courts; the 200th anniversary of the Supreme Court; and the 240th anniversary of the Superior Court. 

“These are important milestones for North Carolina. Our courts process nearly three million cases each year – cases that help keep our citizens safe, our economy vibrant, and our rights and liberties secure,” said Chief Justice Martin. “I invite every North Carolinian to join in this celebration by learning more about North Carolina’s Judicial Branch and the importance of courts.”

These anniversaries will provide great opportunities for North Carolinians to reflect on the importance of the rule of law and the fair and impartial administration of justice. During this time of celebration, events will occur across the state to educate North Carolinians on the history of our court system, to engage them in the celebration of these momentous milestones, and to encourage them to join with court officials and staff in thinking strategically about the future of our courts and the pursuit of justice.  

The 50th anniversary of the district courts will be celebrated in each county throughout this milestone year, bringing together key court system stakeholders and its citizens. For more information about the statewide court celebrations, visit

About the Unified Court System of North Carolina
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 unified statewide and state-operated system. After a thorough study, the Bell Committee in 1958 recommended a complete restructuring of the judicial system. In 1962, the voters of North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment creating North Carolina’s present court system under Article IV of the present constitution. Legislation was passed in 1965 to reorganize the court system according to the new Article IV, and the system began operation in 1966. Jurisdiction of the courts of North Carolina is now uniform throughout the state. At the trial level, original jurisdiction over misdemeanors, minor civil cases, juvenile matters and domestic relations was taken from the superior court and given to the district court, and the many city and county courts were replaced by a uniform district court system. The justices of the peace and mayors’ courts were replaced by magistrates, who operate within the district court division. On the appellate level, an intermediate appellate court – the Court of Appeals – was created in 1967 to relieve the heavy caseload of the Supreme Court.

About the District Court of North Carolina
North Carolina's unified court system consists of three divisions: the appellate division, the superior court division, and the district court division. Established in 1966, the state is divided into district court districts for electoral purposes and administrative purposes. Also, the district court sits in the county seat of each county. It may sit in certain other cities and towns if authorized by the General Assembly. Most counties have only one seat of court, but a few counties have several. Unlike the superior court, the district court districts are not grouped into larger judicial divisions. Each administrative district court district has a chief district court judge who manages the administrative duties of the court. District courts, or trial courts, can be divided into four categories, civil, criminal, juvenile, and magistrate.

More Information

Court Categories: AOC Court of Appeals District Court Superior Court Supreme Court Unified Courts