Justices of the Supreme Court of North Carolina (Spring 2019)
Supreme Court of North Carolina

From the Asheboro Courier-Tribine

Randolph County will host the Supreme Court of North Carolina as part of the court’s bicentennial celebration.

The Supreme Court will hold two sessions at the 1909 Historic Courthouse on Tuesday, Oct. 1, according to Randolph County Clerk of Superior Court Pam Hill.

The first session will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be a criminal appeal, followed by a 30-minute break. The second session will start at 11 a.m. and will be a civil appeal. More information about the cases may be found on the court’s calendar of arguments.

“Randolph County citizens, bar members and judiciary welcome Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and the six associate justices to our county,” said Senior Resident Superior Court Judge V. Bradford Long in a press release. “Only a relatively small number of communities will have the good fortune to host the Supreme Court during the court’s bicentennial celebration. We are greatly honored for this opportunity. We thank the Randolph County commissioners for allowing the sessions to be held at the Historic Courthouse.”

The associate judges include Anita Earls, Sam J. Ervin IV, Robin E. Hudson, Michael R. Morgan, Mark A. Davis and Paul Martin Newby, the lone Republican and a Randolph County native.

The General Assembly granted the Supreme Court’s request to allow the justices to convene in cities across the state during the court’s 2018-20 bicentennial celebration. The Oct. 1 session will be at the historic courthouse located at 145 Worth St., Asheboro.

Want to go?

Admission is limited and by ticket only. Tickets allow admission to only one of the sessions. They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning Sept. 16.

To reserve a seat, visit www.eventbrite.com to register and request a ticket.

Include your full name, driver’s license number, address, email and telephone number. Your request will not be processed without this information. Your request to reserve seating with the above stated information may also be mailed to the Clerk of Superior Courts Office, Attention Pam Hill, 176 E. Salisbury St., Suite 201, Asheboro, NC 27203.

All requests for tickets must be vetted by the Supreme Court Justice’s Office, Hill said. Individuals who receive a ticket will be contacted by email or telephone prior to the event and given information about arrival time as well as where to meet.

The court sessions will be streamed live to area schools and Randolph Community College Continuing Education and Industrial Center, at the JB and Claire Davis Corporate Training Center, located at 413 Industrial Park Ave., Asheboro. In addition, both sessions of court will be streamed on Facebook live at Facebook.com/NCcourts.

What is the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state’s highest court, and there is no further appeal from its decisions on matters of state law, according to its website.

It comprises the Chief Justice, who also serves as the head of the Judicial Branch, and six associate justices, each serving eight-year terms. The Supreme Court has no jury and makes no determinations of fact, but considers whether error occurred at trial or in judicial interpretation of the law. The court hears appeals of the decisions from the other divisions of the General Court of Justice, as well as appeals of the decisions of some other state agencies.

Most of the Supreme Court’s cases come from the Court of Appeals. Because the judges of the Court of Appeals sit in panels of three judges for each case, one judge might disagree with the others about the outcome of the case; this is called a “dissent” by the judge who disagrees. If there is a dissent in the opinion of the Court of Appeals, or if the case involves an important question about the constitutions of North Carolina or the United States, then the party who disagrees with the Court of Appeals has a right to have the Supreme Court review the case.

Even if there was a unanimous decision in the Court of Appeals, a party can petition the Supreme Court to hear an appeal of that decision, but the court does not have to accept the case.

Some cases go directly to the Supreme Court without passing through the Court of Appeals. A defendant sentenced to death for a conviction of first-degree murder may appeal his conviction or sentence directly to the Supreme Court. The court also hears direct appeals from decisions about utilities rates (prices) from the state Utilities Commission.

Finally, in certain cases, the Supreme Court can order that a case bypass the Court of Appeals and be heard directly by the Supreme Court. These cases generally involve legal questions that are important to the public or for which the delay of first hearing the case in the Court of Appeals would result in substantial harm to a party or their interests.

Celebrating 200 years

The N.C. Supreme Court was established in 1819. It was initially composed of three justices who served “for periods of good behavior” that essentially became life terms.

The court originally met only in Raleigh, a location that proved burdensome to many residents as the state’s population began to push westward in the first half of the 19th century. Prompted by its western constituency, the NC General Assembly enacted legislation requiring the court to hold monthly sessions in Morganton starting in 1847.

During its time in Morganton, the court held arguments in almost 500 cases. Over two-thirds of those cases were argued by either one of two Asheville brothers, John and Nicholas Woodfin. These court sessions continued until 1861, when tensions preceding the Civil War prevented the court from leaving its permanent home in the state capital.

The court has remained in Raleigh since that time but has recently held special sessions of court in Burke and Chowan counties.

Thanks to legislation passed in 2017 by the General Assembly, the court is holding additional sessions of oral argument outside of Raleigh as part of its 200th anniversary celebration.

“Taking the court on the road will help promote discussion about the role of courts and the importance of the rule of law in a free society,” then Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin said in a 2018 article about the celebration, noting court sessions would be convened in more than 20 cities and towns throughout North Carolina.

“Each of these visits will be paired with local civics education initiatives to maximize public interaction and provide learning opportunities for North Carolinians of all ages. Every part of our state is rich in local history, and the court is eager to share its 200th anniversary with all of the more than 10 million people who call North Carolina home. I invite everyone to join us as we celebrate the enduring nature of our state courts and their proud legacy of providing justice for all.”

Court Categories: Supreme Court