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North Carolina Legal Research: Courts & Case Law

Courts & Case Law

Court decisions involve interpretation of legislation. They can add new dimensions to statutes, which cannot anticipate all possible applications. In North Carolina, cases usually begin in trial court (district and superior courts) and are appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court. Trial court opinions often are not written or published. Reports of the North Carolina Court of Appeals and the North Carolina Supreme Court are published.

Locating Court Reports

  • West's North Carolina Digest, 2d (NoCar Ref KFN7457 .N6 1990). This guide to court reports organizes court decisions by topic, which correspond to key numbers found at the top of each page of the digest, and provides brief summaries of cases. This digest covers North Carolina-related cases of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the federal courts at all levels. The digest is updated by pocket parts and supplement pamphlets. Several indexes provide access to reports and to the digest itself:

    -- Table of Cases. Lists cases in alphabetical order and gives the Digest topics and key numbers.


        Ogburn v. Booker, NC, 150 SE 330, 197 NC 687.--App. & E 173(6); Judgm 713(2).

    Explanation: This case can be found in the Southeastern Reporter, volume 150, page 330, and in the North Carolina Reports, volume 197, page 687. It pertains to the topics appeal & error and judgment, found in the main volumes of the Digest at key numbers 173(6) and 713(2), respectively.

    --  Defendant-Plaintiff Table

    --  Words and Phrases.
    Lists legal words and phrases and cases that pertain to them.

    --  Descriptive Word Index. The user looks for a term in this index and is given the abbreviation of the topic and key number where cases of this kind
    are listed and summarized.


        APPEAL and error, False Imp 42

  • Recent Court Decisions.  Recent decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals are available on the North Carolina Supreme Court's Web site at:

  • Strongs's North Carolina Index, 4th (NoCar Ref KFN7445.6 .S82 1989). This "encyclopedic treatment of North Carolina Law" provides commentary concerning statutes and court cases. It is updated by pocket parts.
  • Rules of Court Current rules of procedure of the state's court system can be found in the General Statutes, in Annotated Rules of North Carolina (NoCar Ref KFN 7430 1943 A22x), and in the LexisNexis Academic database described below.
  • LexisNexis Academic A Web-accessible product that provides full-text access to nearly 6,000 titles in news, business, and law.  LexisNexis Academic includes full text of federal and state cases, statutes, and law reviews.
  • LexisNexis Academic—Legal Research Once into the LexisNexis Academic database, choose “State Case Law” and “North Carolina.”  Students, faculty and staff with aPirate ID and password may gain access from off-campus.