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Litigation in District and Superior Courts

State and federal trial courts comprise the forum where most civil legal disputes are addressed and ultimately resolved.  The attorneys of Hannah Sheridan Loughridge & Cochran, LLP are intimately familiar with the legal process, as our attorneys have represented businesses and individuals in a wide range of civil legal proceedings.  Whether the underlying issue relates to a contract dispute, tort claim (e.g., trespass, conversion, etc.), fraudulent transfer scheme, or construction project gone awry, our legal team takes pride in zealously protecting our clients’ legal rights.  Our attorneys regularly file pleadings, argue motions, conduct depositions, tender written discovery, attend mediated settlement conferences, draft legal memorandum, litigate matters at trial, and execute upon judgments.  At the same time, HSLC prides itself in strongly pursuing settlement of civil disputes such that our clients may enjoy the certainty of placing a given dispute behind them.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What is the difference between district and superior courts in North Carolina?

North Carolina holds two trial court divisions, district court and superior court.  In general, civil matters in which the amount in controversy is less than $25,000.00 are tried in district court.  Civil disputes in excess of $25,000.00 are generally tried in superior court.  Each of North Carolina’s 100 counties holds a courthouse where the trial courts are housed.

  1. Since I own my own corporation, may I represent my business in district or superior court?

No.  Established case law and statutory law provides that a corporation may not practice law in North Carolina.  Accordingly, a corporation is well advised to obtain an attorney should it desire to try a legal issue in North Carolina courts.  While a non-lawyer may represent a corporation in small claims court, that option is not available should the case be appealed de novo to district court.

  1. How are federal courts organized?

The federal courts are organized into 94 district level trial courts.  Appeal then lies to one of 13 circuit courts of appeal.  A very small number of appeals from circuit courts of appeal are then ruled upon by the United States Supreme Court.  North Carolina federal trial courts are divided into three geographic district courts, eastern, middle, and western.  Appeal lies to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

  1. When may I file a lawsuit in federal court?

In general, a case may be filed in federal court when it involves either a federal question (arising under a federal law) or a diversity of citizenship (between citizens of different states in cases exceeding $75,000.00).  The specifics of federal question or diversity jurisdiction can be quite complicated, so an attorney should be consulted for a definitive answer.

  1. What is a money judgment?

In a civil suit, a money judgment is a court order stating that the prevailing party is entitled to recover a specific amount of money from the adverse party.  Judgments often come by way of default judgment proceedings, motions for judgment on the pleadings, summary judgment motions, and trial verdicts.

  1. How do I collect my money once a trial court awards a judgment?

North Carolina statutes provide a process whereby the local sheriff is first involved in locating and selling certain assets of the debtor.  Proceeds are applied towards the judgment balance.  In the event that the sheriff is not successful in satisfying the judgment through a sale of assets, supplemental proceedings are available to a judgment creditor whereby they may inquire about the location and value of assets, as well as pursue a court ordered sale or transfer.  Fraudulent transfer statutes help to protect creditors from debtors who unfairly conceal assets by transferring them to third party businesses or individuals.

If you have a legal issue which may require the assistance of an attorney, please contact the lawyers at Hannah Sheridan Loughridge & Cochran, LLP at 919-859-6840.