The Supreme Court of North Carolina is commemorating its 200th anniversary this year. As part of the celebration, the Court will hold a special session at the Whitted Building in Hillsborough on Nov. 19, 2019. Under state law, the Supreme Court can meet in only two cities outside of Raleigh - Edenton and Morganton. As a way to bring the court to the people, the General Assembly granted the Supreme Court's request to allow the justices to convene in different cities across the state during the Court's 2018-2020 bicentennial celebration.
“The legal community and everyone serving at the Orange County Courthouse are thrilled to be welcoming the Court to Hillsborough," said Orange County Clerk of Superior Court Mark Kleinschmidt, who leads the local committee planning logistics for the historic visit. "It is fitting that as part of its bicentennial celebration, the Court would visit us. We have served as North Carolina’s capital and have held court here since colonial times. Orange County’s contributions to our state’s history literally cover the courthouse walls in the Mural Courtroom on the main level of our courthouse.”
The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state’s highest court. There is no further appeal from its decisions on matters of state law. It comprises the Chief Justice, who also serves as the head of the Judicial Branch, and six associate justices, each serving eight-year terms.
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley will preside over oral arguments. The Supreme Court will hear two cases. The first session will convene at 10 a.m.; the case addresses a defendant’s right to counsel for a post-conviction motion requesting DNA testing in a murder case. Following a 30-minute break, a second session will convene at 11:30 a.m. The second case concerns the classification of funds received in a 2000 settlement agreement reached with Smithfield Farms regarding hog-waste.
Both sessions will be held in the Commissioners' Meeting Room, located at 300 West Tryon Street, Hillsborough, NC 27278. The space has an elevated dais and the necessary technological resources to accommodate the Court. According to Penny Rich, Chair of the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), "When the BOCC voted to renovate the Whitted building to create a meeting space for the commissioners and the community, we never imagined that the North Carolina Supreme Court would hold session there. We are truly honored and welcome the Justices to Orange County."
Due to limited seating, admission to these sessions of court is by ticket only. To make this historic event accessible to more people, Orange County has joined with the Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber of Commerce to facilitate a public viewing party in the Battle Courtroom at the county courthouse. Additionally, the proceedings will be available via live streaming video at orangecountync.gov/967/Meeting-Videos and Orange County Gov-TV on channels 1301 or 97.6 (Spectrum Cable).
For more information about the Supreme Court, or to request a speaker to discuss the role and importance of the Judicial Branch and court systems at your next event, please visit Celebrate.NCcourts.org.