Court Reports

About this collection

Although you will find many types of court-related material throughout this website, this collection contains two specific court publications:

  • North Carolina Reports (1778 - ongoing), which are the official report of opinions of the North Carolina Supreme Court, including the Court of Conference and Superior Courts that preceded it. The reports have been re-published over the years. The reports included in this collection are commonly known as the “Walter Clark” editions. Walter Clark (1846-1924), an Associate justice and Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, undertook a reprint project of the North Carolina reports.
  • North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports (1968 - ongoing), which are the official report of opinions of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The series begins in 1968, after the Court of Appeals was created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1967.

These reports represent the official decisions of the North Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, and they are broadly cited in legal literature.

The reports do not contain the entire record relating to Supreme Court and Court of Appeals cases. Instead, they contain information about the final outcome of cases heard in North Carolina’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Beyond the decisions, these publications contain a wealth of additional information. Over the years, the reports have included information about the North Carolina court system, including but not limited to:

  • annual lists of newly-licensed attorneys
  • biographical essays
  • historical essays
  • portrait presentations
  • miscellaneous announcements
  • lists of cases appealed from the North Carolina Supreme Court to the federal Supreme Court
  • information about federal district courts
  • amendments to the rules and regulations of the North Carolina State Bar
  • instructions on how to cite early volumes
  • names of the justices and court staff of the Supreme Court, Superior Courts, and district courts
  • names of district attorneys and solicitors
  • names of Attorney General and staff in the Office of the Attorney General
  • index of cases, General Statutes, sections of the Constitution of North Carolina cited, and various rules cited
  • index of decisions organized by topic

Notes on Citation and Court History

North Carolina Reports, particularly the “Walter Clark” editions and subsequent volumes, are cited as [volume number] N.C. [page number]. For example, 227 N.C. 737 would indicate page 737 of Volume 227 of the North Carolina Reports.

North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports are cited as [volume number] N.C.App. [page number]. For example, 3 N.C. App. 100 would indicate page 100 of Volume 3 of the North Carolina Court of Appeals Reports.

Because versions changed over the years, page numbers changed as well. The correct way to quote from the reprinted versions is to use the original pagination, which is indicated in marginal and/or parenthetical page numbers:

Users may notice that the earliest North Carolina Report volumes report cases from the “Court of Conference of North Carolina.” The Court of Conference was North Carolina’s first appellate court, where judges from North Carolina’s six judicial districts met twice a year to review their cases. The state did not rename the court as “Supreme Court” until 1805, and it was not authorized to hear appeals until 1810. In 1818, the General Assembly made the Supreme Court its own court, where a tribunal of three justices were elected by the legislature and held court twice a year, hearing cases from the Superior Court. Earlier in its history, the terms “Supreme Court” and “Superior Court” had been used interchangeably, and this language is often reflected in the early Reports.

Regarding the “Walter Clark” editions, the first six volumes of the reports cover the years 1778 – 1818, before the court became an independent tribunal and during which the court was interchangeably known as the “Court of Conference,” “Superior Court,” and “Supreme Court.” The 7th through 62nd volumes, spanning 1819 to 1868, cover the period during which the Supreme Court was a three-member appellate court. The court increased to five members from the 63rd through 79th volumes (1868 – 1878), returned to three members in the 80th through 100th volumes (1879 – 1888), and increased again to five members in volumes 101 through 211 (1889 -- 1937). Since the 212th volume (1937), the Supreme Court has consisted of seven justices.