The right of public access to court proceedings is partly derived from the Constitution and partly from court tradition. By conducting their judicial work in public view, judges enhance public confidence in the courts, and they allow citizens to learn first-hand how our judicial system works. The Mecklenburg County Courthouse is designed to inspire in the public a respect for the tradition and purpose of the American judicial process. Anyone who wishes to observe a court in session may go to the Mecklenburg County Courthouse and watch a proceeding.
With certain very limited exceptions, each step of the state judicial process is open to the public. In a few situations the public may not have full access to court records and court proceedings. In a high-profile trial, for example, there may not be enough space in the courtroom to accommodate everyone who would like to observe. Access to the courtroom also may be restricted for security or privacy reasons, such as the protection of a juvenile or a confidential informant. Finally, certain documents may be placed under seal by the judge, meaning that they are not available to the public. Examples of sealed information include confidential business records, certain law enforcement reports, and juvenile records.
CourtroomsTwo administrative courtrooms are located on Level 1 and Small Claims courtrooms are located on Level 2. Trial Courts are located on Levels 4 through Level 8.
View a floor directory of the courthouse. Different types of cases are tried on each floor.
- Level 1. District, Criminal Administrative Misdemeanor Court, Presided by Judge, No Jury, Room 1130
- Level 1. District, First Appearance (Criminal) Felony Court, Presided by Judge, No Jury, Room 1150
- Level 2. Small Claims, Civil (less than $10,000) Court, Presided by Magistrate, No Jury, Room 2330, 2350, 2370
- Level 4. District, Criminal (Misdemeanor) Court, Presided by Judge, No Jury, Room 4110 (DV Civil), 4130 (DV Criminal), 4150, 4170, 4310
- Level 5. Superior, Criminal (Felony) Court, Presided by Judge, Jury, Room 5130, 5150, 5170, 5350 (Criminal Administrative), 5370
- Level 6. Superior, Civil ($25,000+) Court, Presided by Judge, Jury, Room 6130, 6150, 6170
- Level 6. District, Civil ($10,000 - $25,000) Court, Presided by Judge, Jury, Room 6330, 6350
- Level 8. District, Domestic Relations Court, Presided by Judge, No Jury, Room 8100, 8130, 8150, 8170, 8310
- Level 8. District, Juvenile Court, Presided by Judge, No Jury, Room 8330, 8350, 8390
Calendars and SchedulesMecklenburg County maintains information about calendars and schedules for various courtrooms. Superior and District Court Judges’ assignments are posted each week and will give you an idea of which courtrooms are operating and what is taking place in each courtroom.
The District and Superior Civil Trial calendars are posted approximately 30-40 days in advance of the date. A final calendar will be posted the Friday afternoon prior to the start of the session. Docket sheets are posted outside the entrance to each courtroom on a daily basis and will list the case number, party/defendant name, and the charge or type of case.
FilesAnyone may review the pleadings and other documents associated with a case by going to the Clerk of Superior Court's Office and asking for the appropriate case file. Ideally, a case number is preferred, but information can also be found using party or defendant name(s). There is no fee to view the file, which can not be removed from the file viewing area, but there is a fee to make copies. Criminal files can be found on Level 2 (Room 2132) and Civil files can be found on Level 3 (Room 3725).
Courtroom Rules and Etiquette
- You should dress appropriately when observing court so as to maintain the dignity of the court. Business casual dress is preferred.
- Talking is not permitted inside the courtroom. Do not approach or walk to the front of the courtroom.
- All cell phones are to be turned off or placed on silent only. The use of electronic devices is permitted as long as they do not interfere or disrupt courtroom proceedings. Electronic devices cannot be used to take photographs or to make audio or video recordings of court proceedings. Violation of this policy may result in the confiscation of your electronic device. The presiding Judge may further restrict, or prohibit the use of an electronic device if it interferes with the administration of justice or disrupts the proceedings.
- No food or drinks of any kind is allowed inside the courtroom. Eating, drinking, and sleeping while in the courtroom is not permitted.
- All males must remove their hats and any type of headgear that is worn while inside the courtroom, including baseball caps and du-rags. The wearing of sunglasses while inside the courtroom is not permitted.