(a) Sessions of the superior court shall be held in each city in the State which is not a county seat and which has a population of 35,000 or more, according to the 1960 federal census.
(a1) In addition to the sessions of superior court authorized by subsection (a) of this section, sessions of superior court in the following counties may be held in the additional seats of court listed by order of the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge after consultation with the Chief District Court Judge:
County Seats of Court
The courtrooms and related judicial facilities for these sessions of superior court may be provided by the municipality, and in such cases the facilities fee collected for the State by the clerk of superior court shall be remitted to the municipality to assist in meeting the expense of providing those facilities.
(b) For the purpose of segregating the cases to be tried in any city referred to in subsection (a), and to designate the place of trial, the clerk of superior court in any county having one or more such cities shall set up a criminal docket and a civil docket, which dockets shall indicate the cases and proceedings to be tried in each such city in his county. Such dockets shall bear the name of the city in which such sessions of court are to be held, followed by the word "Division." Summons in actions to be tried in any such city shall clearly designate the place of trial.
(c) For the purpose of determining the proper place of trial of any action or proceeding, whether civil or criminal, the county in which any city described in subsection (a) is located shall be divided into divisions, and the territory embraced in the division in which each such city is located shall consist of the township in which such city lies and all contiguous townships within such county, such division of the superior court to be known by the name of such city followed by the word "Division." All other townships of any such county shall constitute a division of the superior court to be known by the name of the county seat followed by the word "Division." All laws, rules, and regulations now or hereafter in force and effect in determining the proper venue as between the superior courts of the several counties of the State shall apply for the purpose of determining the proper place of trial as between such divisions within such county and as between each of such divisions and any other county of the superior court in North Carolina.
(d) The clerk of superior court of any county with an additional seat of superior court may, but shall not be required to, hear matters in any place other than at his office at the county seat.
(e) The grand jury for the several divisions of court of any county in which a city described in subsection (a) is located shall be drawn from the whole county, and may hold hearings and meetings at either the county seat or elsewhere within the county as it may elect, or as it may be directed by the judge holding any session of superior court within such county; provided, however, that in arranging the sessions of the court for the trial of criminal cases for any county in which any such city is located a session of one week or more shall be held at the county seat preceding any session of one week or more to be held in any such city, so as to facilitate the work of the grand jury, and so as to confine its meetings to the county seat as fully as may be practicable. All petit jurors for all sessions of court in the several divisions of such county shall be drawn, as now or hereafter provided by law, from the whole of the county in which any such city is located for all sessions of courts in the several divisions of such county.
(f) Special sessions of court for the trial of either civil or criminal cases in any city described in subsection (a) may be arranged as by law now or hereafter provided for special sessions of the superior court.
(g) All court records of all such divisions of the superior court of any such county shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the superior court at the county seat, but they may be temporarily removed under the direction and supervision of the clerk to any such division or divisions. No judgment or order rendered at any session held in any such city shall become a lien upon or otherwise affect the title to any real estate within such county until it has been docketed in the office of the clerk of the superior court at the county seat as now or may hereafter be provided by law; provided, that nothing herein shall affect the provisions of G.S. 1-233 and the equities therein provided for shall be preserved as to all judgments and orders rendered at any session of the superior court in any such city.
(h) It shall be the duty of the board of county commissioners of the county in which any such city is located to provide a suitable place for holding such sessions of court, and to provide for the payment of the extra expense, if any, of the sheriff and his deputies in attending the sessions of court of any such division, and the expense of keeping, housing and feeding prisoners while awaiting trial.
(i) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, when exigent circumstances exist, sessions of superior court may be conducted at a location outside a county seat by order of the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge of a county, with the prior approval of the location and the facilities by the Administrative Office of the Courts and after consultation with the Clerk of Superior Court and county officials of the county. An order entered under this subsection shall be filed in the office of the Clerk of Superior Court in the county and posted at the courthouse within the county seat and notice shall be posted in other conspicuous locations. The order shall be limited to such session or sessions as are approved by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. (1943, c. 121; 1969, c. 1190, s. 48; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1037, s. 2.1; 1997-304, s. 4.)