The Superior Court consists of the superior court, which is the trial court of general jurisdiction in North Carolina. The counties are grouped into 46 superior court districts, which in turn are grouped into eight divisions. One or more superior court judges are elected for each superior court district.
The Superior Court is the proper division for the trial of civil actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000. It is also the proper division, without regard to the amount in controversy, for certain special proceedings, condemnation actions and proceedings, corporate receiverships, review of decisions of administrative agencies, and where the principal relief sought is injunctive or declaratory to establish the validity of a statute, ordinance or regulation, or enforcement or declaration of any claim of constitutional right. In addition, the Superior Court Division, through the clerk of superior court, has exclusive original jurisdiction for probate of wills and for administration of decedent's estates.
As to criminal jurisdiction, the Superior Court has original jurisdiction in all felony cases and in some misdemeanor cases. Most misdemeanors are tried first in the District Court, from which a conviction may be appealed to the Superior Court for trial de novo by a jury. Both criminal and civil cases in superior court are tried before a twelve-person jury.
The North Carolina Constitution requires superior court judges to rotate between districts, or "ride circuit." Each superior court judge holds court for at least six months in a superior court district. The rotation method was developed to avoid any favoritism that might result from always having the same judges hold court where they live, where they might be personally familiar with and interested in the cases brought before the court.
The senior resident superior court judge is responsible for court operations within the district. By statute, the senior resident superior court judge is the most senior judge in the district and is responsible for carrying out various administrative duties and appointing magistrates and some other court officials.
Sampson County is in Superior Court District 4A. Its seat of court is located in Clinton, North Carolina.