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North Carolina Civil Practice & Procedure
Elon University School of Law
Woodlief, Alan

I. Jurisdiction
a. Subject Matter Jurisdiction
i. General Concepts
1. Every Court has Jurisdiction to determine its own Jurisdiction
2. SMJ defects are NEVER waived and can be raised at any time in/by any court
3. Usually—courts will transfer matter to the court within the same judicial system with SMJ
a. EXCEPTION: If no court in the same judicial system has SMJ, then the case is dismissed
4. If decision is reached on the merits before dismissal for lack of SMJ—does collateral estoppel apply to that decision?
a. FACTOR TEST: (1) whether lack of jurisdiction is clear; (2) whether jurisdiction depends on questions of law or fact; (3) whether the court is of limited, and not general, jurisdiction; (4) whether the questions of jurisdiction were not litigated; and (5) whether strong policy exists against the court acting beyond its own jurisdiction
ii. North Carolina Courts SMJ (General—unless exclusive jurisdiction in fed court)
1. NC Supreme Court
a. Appeals as-of-right
i. Dissent in the Court of Appeals
ii. Substantial state/federal constitutional issue
iii. Cases involving general rate-making proceedings of N.C. Utilities Commission
iv. Death penalty cases
b. Discretionary
i. Petition for discretionary review (discretionary)
ii. Motion for direct review from trial court (bypass Court of Appeals)
1. May be made by either: (1) the Court, upon its own motion, or (2) the adversely affected party
c. Original jurisdiction (not appellate)
i. Complaints filed with the NC Judicial Standards Commission
2. NC Court of Appeals
a. Appeals from Superior or District courts
b. Insurance rates cases
c. Administrative agencies
d. Workers compensation
e. State Bar Disciplinary Hearing Committee
3. Superior
a. Exclusive (i.e., must be brought there)
i. Probate matters (wills and estates)
ii. NC Business Court
iii. Appeal from District Court (de novo)
1. This is where right to jury trial is preserved
b. Proper (i.e., may be brought there—but can be transferred to court of proper jurisdiction upon motion)
i. Civil actions in excess of $10,000
ii. Injunctive relief/declaratory judgment action
1. To establish validity or invalidity of a statute
2. Appointment of guardians or administrators
4. District (no jury trials here—not even for criminal)
a. Exclusive
i. Juvenile cases
b. Proper
i. Civil actions less than or equal to $10,000
ii. Family law matters
iii. Traffic matters
5. Magistrate (actually an arm of District Court)
a. Small Claims (civil actions less than $5,000)
6. Industrial Commission
a. Worker’s Compensation claims, and
b. All other related matters!
7. Transfer between Trial Divisions
a. When a case is filed in the improper division of trial court—any party may move for proper transfer, or the superior court judge may transfer
i. BUT the case may still be tried in the improper division and the judgment will be valid!
iii. Federal Courts SMJ
1. Federal Jurisdiction and Power
a. Article III extends to all cases, whether in law or equity
2. “Case or Controversy”(dispute must be justifiable and concrete, AND must touch on the legal rights and obligations of the parties)
a. Ripeness
i. CANNOT be merely hypothetical
ii. Must ripen into actual case and controversy between the parties
iii

izenship
1. Individuals
a. Elements of Citizenship: (1) Location of residence, and (2) Intent to re main indefinitely
b. RULE: This test is generally subjective—but objective evidence may be considered (bank statements, drivers license, insurance, tax filings, ect.)
2. Corporations
a. Two Domiciles
i. Principle Place of Business, or
ii. State of incorporation
b. Different Tests
i. Nerve Center Test: Where are the key decision makers located? (4th Circuit approved)
ii. Muscle Test: where does the corp have most employees located?
iii. Combination of Nerve and Muscle Tests
3. Foreign Alien Corporations
a. If a corporation is a citizen (place of incorporation) of a foreign country—but has a principle place of business in a state in this country—it is also a citizen of that state
4. Unincorporated businesses &/or Partnerships
a. Citizens of every state where members are citizens
5. Infants/Incompetents/Estates
a. Same citizenship as the infant, incompetent or decedent—but not where they happen to live
vi. Collusion and Devices to Create or Defeat Diversity
1. Assignment of Claims:Federal courts do not have jurisdiction when a party by assignment or otherwise has been improperly joined in order to invoke jurisdiction
a. EXCEPTION: assignment of claims to another party for collection purposes