Appeals? What is the right Court?

June 6, 2018 | Sam Morris

Appeals:  Are you in the right court?  

As noted in our previous post, North Carolina has two appellate courts, and each has its own unique jurisdiction over various appeals.  If litigation has progressed to the appellate phase, an attorney must ensure to file his appeal in the proper court.  

The vast majority of appeals in North Carolina from the Superior and District courts in all civil and criminal matters are made directly to the Court of Appeals.  This process allows for the honing in of the legal issues on appeal.  In addition, the Court of Appeals hears direct appeals from various state administrative agencies.  Nonetheless, several notable exceptions apply, wherein a party appeals directly to the Supreme Court.  

First, a defendant has a direct right to appeal to the Supreme Court in capital murder cases if the Superior Court imposes the death penalty.

Second, under the 2014 Business Court Modernization Act, parties may appeal directly to the Supreme Court from various Business Court orders or any final judgment in a designated mandatory business case.  The Business Court is a specialized division of the general court of justice, established in 1995, which oversees various complex business cases in North Carolina. This direct right to appeal only applies to actions “designated” as mandatory complex business cases on or after October 1, 2014.  

Third, a party may appeal directly to the Supreme Court from any trial court’s decision regarding class action certification.  

Fourth, a party may appeal directly to the Supreme Court “from any final order or decision of the Utilities Commission in a general rate case.”

Last, beginning on January 1, 2019, an appeal lies of right directly to the Supreme Court from any order terminating parental rights or denying a petition or motion to terminate parental rights.  

Every appeal presents its own set of facts and circumstances that make it unique and requires an attorney experienced in handling such matters.  Our office can help you if you live in Morehead City, Beaufort and/or New Bern, North Carolina or other surrounding areas.      


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