North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

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Recent Developments in North Carolina Property Law: Where's the Supreme Court of North Carolina?

September 26, 2017

95 N.C. L. Rev 1561 (2017) 

 

From its creation in 1818 until the creation of the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 1967, the Supreme Court of North Carolina was the state’s sole appellate court. As such, it was solely responsible for the development of the state’s common law. At first, the creation of an intermediate appellate court did not change that situation. Created to address the burgeoning number of appeals following the great expansion of federal rights for criminal defendants in the mid-twentieth century, the Court of Appeals was originally intended to be a court for the correction of error rather than a precedent-setting court. But in 1989 the Supreme Court held that where one panel of the Court of Appeals has decided an issue, subsequent panels are bound by that precedent unless it is overturned by a higher court. From 1989 until today, state law has in many instances been shaped by decisions of three-judge panels of the Court of Appeals rather than by the seven-member Supreme Court. This Article focuses on several significant decisions concerning basic property law that have been made by panels of the Court of Appeals and explores the consequences of delegating the Supreme Court’s precedent-setting function to panels of the intermediate appellate court. 

 

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