From Greensboro News & Record by Danielle Battaglia
As part of its bicentennial celebrations, the N.C. Supreme Court heard two cases here on Monday. "For me this is a great and wonderful homecoming," said Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby, who grew up in Jamestown. The Supreme Court invited Guilford County residents to sit in on both a civil and a criminal case. Greensboro marked one of 26 stops around the state the justices plan to make. "It feels amazing," said Chief Justice Cheri Beasley. "What a wonderful time to be on the Supreme Court." Founded in 1819, the N.C. Supreme Court is the state's highest appellate court and most often hears appeals of opinions from the N.C. Court of Appeals.
To celebrate the court's 200th anniversary, North Carolinian Tom Earnhardt created the documentary "North Carolina Supreme Court at 200: Stability and Change 1819-2019" that is airing on UNC-TV. The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh also this month opened the Law and Justice exhibit that displays the court's 200-year history. It runs through May 31.
Here are a few things you might not know about the N.C. Supreme Court:
1. The court as it is known today was established on Jan. 1, 1819.
2. It has been housed in seven locations around Raleigh.
3. The court's precursor was formed in 1776, when the General Assembly appointed "Judges of the Supreme Courts of Law and Equity" and "Judges of Admiralty" to travel the state and settle legal disputes, but still presided over cases in the trial court.
4. In 1799, those judges were known as the Court of Conference.
5. In 1805, the Court of Conference changed its name to the Supreme Court.
6. It wasn't until 1819 that Supreme Court justices stopped presiding in trial courts and focused solely on appellate cases, creating what the Supreme Court is today.
7. The first Supreme Court had three members.
8. In January 1879, the Supreme Court added two more justices creating a five-justice panel.
9. In July 1937, that number increased to seven.
10. Since 1819, 101 justices have served on the court.
11. Four justices hailed from Guilford County in recent years: Newby, Bob Edmunds, Henry Frye Sr. and Robert N. Hunter Jr.
12. Associate Justice Robin Hudson also has a Guilford County connection, she attended Page High School.
13. In 1999, Greensboro lawyer Henry Frye became the state's first black chief justice.
14. Rockingham County resident Susie Sharp served as the state's first female chief justice after being elected in 1974. Sharp, who died in 1996, was also the aunt of Susie Sharp Newsom Lynch, who was killed along with her first-cousin and lover Fritz Klenner in a vehicle explosion after a violent crime spree in 1985 that included a shootout with Greensboro police officers and poisoning and shooting Lynch's two sons before the couple blew up their vehicle on N.C. 150 in Summerfield.
15. Eight women have served as justices.
16. Seven African-Americans have served as justices.
17. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley became the 29th chief justice and the state's first black female chief justice earlier this year.
18. With 35 years on the Supreme Court, Walter Clark was the longest-serving justice.
19. The Supreme Court has published more than 49,000 opinions since its inception.
20. In 2018, the court issued 114 opinions, one opinion more than it did in 1819.