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State of North Carolina

Methods of Judicial Selection: North Carolina

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court: 7
Court of Appeals: 15
Superior Court: 95
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court: --
Court of Appeals: --
Superior Court: 65*
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court: statewide
Court of Appeals: statewide
Superior Court: district
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court: partisan election
Court of Appeals: partisan election
Superior Court: nonpartisan election
Length of Term
Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 8 yrs
Superior Court: 8 yrs
Method of Retention
Supreme Court: reelection
Court of Appeals: reelection
Superior Court: reelection
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: 8 yrs
Superior Court: 8 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court: gubernatorial appointment
Court of Appeals: gubernatorial appointment
Superior Court: merit selection
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court: next general election more than 60 days after vacancy occurred
Court of Appeals: next general election more than 60 days after vacancy occurred
Superior Court: next general election more than 60 days after vacancy occurred; serve remainder of unexpired term
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: nonpartisan election
Court of Appeals: chief justice appoints
Superior Court: seniority
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: 8 yrs
Court of Appeals: indefinite
Superior Court: indefinite
Qualifications
Supreme Court: licensed to practice law in state; mandatory retirement age of 72
Court of Appeals: licensed to practice law in state; mandatory retirement age of 72
Superior Court: licensed to practice law in state; mandatory retirement age of 72

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article IV of the North Carolina Constitution.

*The superior court is also divided into eight divisions. Every six months, superior court judges rotate among the districts within their division