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Under the North Carolina Constitution, the Judicial Department 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.

The official website of the North Carolina Court System.

The colonial history of the judiciary under the Lords Proprietors and royal governors of North Carolina did not allow the legal profession that weight in the community that its importance merited. With despotic governors, and among a vagarious and restless population, rules of action declaring rights and prohibiting wrongs were but little regarded.

By the time North Carolina claimed its independence in 1776, the institutions of state government were already firmly established.  Recognizably English in origin, though radically altered in spirit by its break from the "Mother Country," the government in many ways still resembled the hierarchical network of local and state authorities that had existed since the earliest days of the colony. 

North Carolina General Statutes for the Judicial Branch.

Monuments to Democracy: Architecture Styles in North Carolina Courthouses.The judicial system, as one of three branches of government, is one of the main foundations of democracy. North Carolina’s earliest courthouses, none of which survived, were simple, small, frame or log structures. Ancillary buildings, such as a jail, clerk’s office, and sheriff’s office were built around them. As our nation developed, however, leaders gave careful consideration to the structures that would house important institutions – how they were to be designed and built, what symbols were to be used, and what building materials were to be used.

North Carolina Constitutions spanning from 1776 to present day.

Without Favor, Denial or Delay; a Court System for the 21st Century by the Commission for the Future of Justice and the Courts in North Carolina, December 1996.

North Carolina's first state courts were largely continuations of the colonial system and thus influenced greatly by the English court system. A county court, called the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, was held in each county by the justices of the peace appointed by the governor from the recommendations of the General Assembly.

Historical landmarks of the North Carolina Supreme Court.