Supreme Court of North Carolina Adopts Universal Citation Format

In an order issued by the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the Court announced that it will begin using the universal citation method for judicial opinions and publications beginning January 1, 2021. Adoption of the new citation method would allow decisions to be posted online immediately, with permanent case and pinpoint citations. A Universal Citation Fact Sheet is available to explain the nuances of the citation and why it was adopted.

“The transition to universal citation will make it less burdensome to search content on electronic publications and make opinions publicly available with a permanent citation,” said Associate Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls, who lead the effort for the Court.

Rather than citing to the printed page number in a bound volume published by a third party, the new citation is directly to the opinion published by the court. The citation includes the case name, the year of the decision, the court identifier, a sequential number of the decision, and the paragraph number for pinpoint citations. Cases decided before January 1, 2021, will retain the current citation format. Those cases would continue to be cited using the North Carolina Reports and a parallel citation to the West Reporter citation with pin cites to a page number.