The judiciary of the largest county in North Carolina serves some 1.114 million residents and receives an average of 200,000 filings for legal relief every year. The county courts comprise Superior Courts as well as District courts that adjudicate family cases, traffic violations as well as civil and criminal cases. More specifically, the Superior and District Courts are subdivided into specialized divisions to increase efficiency and caseload management.
The traffic court division exists to resolve infractions and minor traffic offenses for violators who wish to pay traffic tickets. The division also holds arraignment for traffic individuals contesting their tickets but does not hold trials. Instead, the contested case is scheduled for hearing in the specialized trial court. On the other hand, the family court division handles legal issues that arise from disputes within family units in the county. Some of these include cases involving juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, child support, and divorce. The trial division handles civil and criminal cases.
Trials generally hold at the Wake County Justice Center or the County Courthouse, depending on the nature of the case. The court maintains various trial calendars for litigants and interested members of the public who wish to attend public hearings (see the family court calendar, the civil court calendar, as well as the criminal and traffic court calendar).
Records of these cases are available to interested members at the office of the Clerk of Courts under the North Carolina Open Records Law. To request a record, you may make an in-person visit to the superior court or the district court – depending on where the case was filed and heard. The Wake County Justice Center is the center of most judicial activities in the county and a good place to start if you seek records on criminal cases. For records on civil cases, family cases, cases filed in the estate division, and special proceedings involving mediation, visit the Wake County Courthouse. You may also send written requests for public records to
Wake County Justice Center
300 S. Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: (919) 792-4000
Wake County Courthouse
316 Fayetteville St. Mall
P.O. Box 351
Raleigh, NC 27602
Phone: (919) 792-4000
At the courthouse, the requester has access to court documents and filings on public terminals by simply querying the system with a relevant parameter. i.e., name and case number. However, if you want copies of the record accessed, you have to cover the cost of reproducing the record. Administrative staff will provide an estimate for associated fees. The court only accepts money orders and certified checks.
Meanwhile, anyone may access documents on cases of public interest online. This online access to court records is part of a statewide initiative to provide access to electronic court records through the remote public access program. The database pools case information from all counties in North Carolina; you may use it to access Wake County court records from the repose of your home.The need for remote access has especially become glaring during the Coronavirus pandemic that forced the justice wheel to grind to a halt. On November 17, 2020, WRAL-TV reported that jury trials in Wake County have resumed, albeit at bare minimum capacity. Several courtrooms remain closed, and courtroom procedure in the open ones has been modified to protect court staff, litigants, and jurors. In the meantime, court officials are making plans to open more courtrooms and help judicial activities return to normal while protecting public health.