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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

Note of West's North Carolina Digest, 2nd:

  • The Table of Cases lists cases and topics in alphabetical order and gives the digest topics and key numbers.
    • Example: 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 Southern Reporter, volume 150, page 330, and in the North Carolina Reports, volume 197, page 687. It pertains to the topics appeal & error and judgement, found in the main volumes of the Digest at key numbers 173(6) and 713(2), respectively.
  • The Words and Phrases lists legal words and phrases and cases that pertain to them.
  • The Descriptive Word Index provides a list of abbreviated topics along with the designated key number where cases of this kind are listed and summarized.
      • APPEAL and error, False Imp 42

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