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North Carolina, nick named the “Tar Heel State” or the “Old North State”, is the tenth most populous state in the U.S. with nearly ten million residents. It is the twenty eight largest state with just under fifty thousand square miles of territory in the South Atlantic Division of the United states according to the U.S. Census. North Carolina gained statehood in 1789, the state's population has grown from just under four hundred thousand to nearly ten million residents as of 2013. Approximately 2/3 of North Carolinian are white, one fifth black and under ten percent Hispanic.
The state is governed by the typical three branch government, comprised of the Executive (agencies, elected officials and offices), Judicial (state’s court system) and Legislative (state assembly, senate and representatives). The North Carolina General Assembly contains the state's House of Representatives with 120 members who serve a term of two years with a Speaker of the House and a 50 member Senate also serving 2 year terms with the Lieutenant Governor as the president. The House meets on the second Wednesday of January following the election to elect officers. The state's capital is Raleigh and the location of the capitol building and governor’s offices.
There are three sections of North Carolina, Mountain, Piedmont and Coast (also referred to as Atlantic Coastal Pains). The mountains along the West side of the state include Asheville, Appalachian Mountains, foothills, high country, smoky mountains, Cherokee and other national parks. The central is the Piedmont region with urban areas in Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Durham and the triangle. The Coastal region has over three hundred miles of barrier island beaches, historic sites and Cape Hatteras. Although Raleigh is the state’s capital, Charlotte is the state’s largest city by population.
North Carolina's supreme court is the highest court in the state with mandatory jurisdiction in civil, capital criminal, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, disciplinary interlocutory decision cases and discretionary jurisdiction in civil, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, advisory opinions for the executive and legislature, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases.
The state's second highest is the court of appeals with mandatory jurisdiction in civil, noncapital criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, disciplinary, original proceeding cases and discretionary jurisdiction in civil, non capital criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases.
Superior courts with 109 judges have jurisdiction in tort, contract, real property rights (over $10,000/no max), miscellaneous civil cases and has exclusive estate, and administrative agency appeals jurisdiction. Superior court's criminal division hears felony, misdemeanor, criminal appeals cases and has jury trials.
District courts have jurisdiction over tort, contract, real property rights ($0/$10,000), exclusive small claims up to $4,000, mental health, miscellaneous civil and exclusive domestic relations jurisdiction. Criminal district courts have jurisdiction over felony, misdemeanor, DWI/DUI, and traffic/other violation cases, exclusive juvenile jurisdiction, handle preliminary hearings and use jury trials in civil cases only.
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