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Supreme Court of North Carolina

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Supreme Court of North Carolina
Court information
Justices:   7
Founded:   1799
Location:   Raleigh, North Carolina
Chief:  $
Associates:  $
Judicial selection
Method:   Non-partisan election of judges
Term:   8 years
Active justices

North Carolina  •  WikiProject North Carolina  •  North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission  •  

Seal of North Carolina.png

The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state's highest appellate court, and is located in Raleigh, North Carolina.


The current justices of the court are:
JudgeTermSelected byParty
Chief Justice Mark Martin (North Carolina)1998-2022ElectionRepublican
Associate Justice Paul Martin Newby2004-2020ElectionRepublican
Associate Justice Robin Hudson2006-2022ElectionDemocratic
Associate Justice Robert H. Edmunds, Jr.2001-2016ElectionRepublican
Associate Justice Cheri Beasley2012-2022Gov. Bev PerdueDemocratic
Associate Justice Sam Ervin2015-2018ElectedDemocratic
Associate Justice Barbara Jackson2011-2018ElectionRepublican


The primary function of the supreme ccourt is to decide questions of law that have arisen in the lower courts and before state administrative agencies, including Court of Appeals cases that are reviewed upon petition.[1] Each justice writes several hundred printed pages of published opinions each year.

Judicial selection

The court consists of six associate justices and one chief justice, although the number of justices has varied from time to time. In 1987, the Judicial Selection Study Commission evaluated how judges should be chosen for the court. The commission recommended that justices be appointed to a seat on the court. However, the idea has yet to gain enough support in the North Carolina House of Representatives to change the current process. Supreme court justices in the state are still chosen in general elections.[2]

Political outlook

See also: Political outlook of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of North Carolina was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, North Carolina received a score of -0.01. Based on the justices selected, North Carolina was the 25th most liberal court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.[3]


All judges on the supreme court in North Carolina must retire before the last day of the month in which they turn 72.[4]


Fiscal Year Filings Dispositions
2012 744 688
2011 762 727
2010 769 753
2009 736 736
2008 773 794
2007 785 729



Governor Perdue appoints Timmons-Goodson's replacement

Cheri Beasley's appointment to the state's high court sparked some controversy, since the appointment was made by former Governor Bev Perdue without the advice of the North Carolina Judicial Nominating Commission.

When Patricia Timmons-Goodson announced her retirement, effective December 17, 2012, the commission told outgoing Governor Perdue that they would not be able to vet candidates for the vacancy before the end of her term. An executive order placed by Perdue in 2011 required her to choose court appointments from a list of candidates provided by the commission. However, she decided to bypass the commission and make the appointment herself before her time as governor ran out. She named Beasley to the high court on December 12, 2012.

Some decried Perdue's decision as a political move, since she was a Democrat and the newly-elected (at that time) Governor Pat McCrory was a Republican. Sen. Phil Berger, a Republican, stated, "It is increasingly clear that Gov. Perdue’s creation of the judicial screening commission was nothing short of a deceitful political charade."[6] Others defended Perdue's right to appoint justices to court vacancies, with or without the commission, as provided in Article IV, Section 19 of the state's constitution.[7]

Notable decisions


Financial disclosure

See also: Center for Public Integrity Study on State Supreme Court Disclosure Requirements

In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. North Carolina earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.[8]

History of the court

Authority to create the body originated with the state's general assembly in the 1776 state constitution. The North Carolina State House served as the first home of the court. The state's highest court was officially named the "Supreme Court" and created in 1805, though at that time is was a group of four traveling superior court judges who reviewed the decisions made by the lower court. The modern supreme court was created in November 1818 and included a chief justice and associate judges. From 1818 until 1868, judges of the supreme court were elected by the general assembly.


In 1799, the first appellate true court, the "Court of Conference," was created in the state. The court sat en banc twice each year. In 1805, the court was renamed the "Supreme Court". In 1804, the court was ordered to write down their opinions and then read them out loud in court.[9]

From 1818 to 1868

During this time, the justices on the court were selected by the General Assembly and served life terms. In the case of a vacancy, the Governor appointed a replacement who would serve on the bench until the end of the next session of the General Assembly.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag


The Supreme Court is housed in the Law and Justice Building, located across from the North Carolina State Capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. The building was built in 1940 and underwent major renovations in 2005-2007.[10]

Notable firsts

Susie Sharp was the first woman to serve as chief justice of the court. She began serving on the court in 1962 and held the position of chief justice between January 1975 and July 1979.[11]

See also

External links


Portions of this article have been taken from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Copyright Notice can be found here.


See also: North Carolina Supreme Court elections, 2014


CandidateIncumbencyOfficePrimary VoteElection Vote
NewbyPaul Martin Newby   ApprovedAYes51.90%   ApprovedA
ErvinSam Ervin    No48.10%   DefeatedD


See also: 2010 State Supreme Court elections

Incumbent Edward Thomas Brady competed against challengers Robert C. Hunter and Barbara Jackson. Barbara Jackson succeeded with 51.88% of the vote.

Supreme Court of North Carolina
2010 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Barbara Jackson BallotCheckMark.png n/a 51.88'%
Edward Thomas Brady n/a n/a
Robert C. Hunter n/a n/a


See also: State Supreme Court elections, 2008

Incumbent Robert Edmunds defeated challenger Suzanne Reynolds.

Supreme Court of North Carolina
2008 General election results
Candidates Votes Percent
Robert Edmunds BallotCheckMark.png n/a 51.04%
Suzanne Reynolds n/a n/a

Justices are listed roughly in reverse chronological order. Note that dates in parentheses are for service as Chief Justice only. Many Chief Justices have also served as associate justices.

21st Century

  • George Wainwright Jr
  • I. Beverly Lake Jr, Chief Justice (2001-2006)
  • G.K. Butterfield

20th Century

  • Robert Orr
  • Henry Frye, Chief Justice (1999-2001)
  • Franklin Freeman
  • James Wynn Jr
  • Willis Whichard
  • Harry Martin
  • Louis Meyer
  • Burley Mitchell, Chief Justice (1995-1999)
  • John Webb
  • James Exum Jr, Chief Justice (1986-1995)
  • Rhoda Billings, Chief Justice (1986)
  • J. Phil Carlton
  • Joseph Branch, Chief Justice (1979-1986)
  • Daniel Moore
  • Susie Sharp, Chief Justice (1975-1979)
  • William Bobbitt, Chief Justice (1969-1974)
  • R. Hunt Parker, Chief Justice (1966-1969)
  • I. Beverly Lake Sr
  • Emery Denny, Chief Justice (1962-1966)
  • J. Wallace Winborne, Chief Justice (1956-1962)
  • M.V. Barnhill, Chief Justice (1954-1956)
  • William Rodman, Jr.
  • Carlisle Higgins
  • Sam Ervin
  • Aaron Seawell
  • Michael Schenck
  • George Whitfield Connor
  • Heriot Clarkson
  • William Adams
  • William Reynolds Allen
  • James Manning
  • Walter Brock
  • William Devin, Chief Justice (1951-1954)
  • Walter Stacy, Chief Justice (1925-1951)
  • William Hoke, Chief Justice (1924-1925)
  • George Brown
  • Platt Walker
  • Charles Cook
  • Henry Connor
  • Walter Clark, Chief Justice (1903-1924)
  • David Furches, Chief Justice (1901-1903)

19th Century Chief Justices

  • William Faircloth, Chief Justice (1895-1901)
  • James Shepherd, Chief Justice (1893-1895)
  • Augustus Summerfield Merrimon, Chief Justice (1889-1892)
  • William Nathan Harrell Smith, Chief Justice (1878-1889)
  • Richmond Mumford Pearson, Chief Justice (1858–1878)
  • Frederick Nash, Chief Justice (1852-1858)
  • Thomas Ruffin, Chief Justice (1833-1852)
  • Leonard Henderson, Chief Justice (1829–1833)
  • John Louis Taylor, first Chief Justice (1818-1829)

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