What is taxed as court costs? A question so seemingly simple would rightfully lead one to believe it held an answer just as basic. Black's Law Dictionary defines the term as "[tihe charges or fees taxed by the court, such as filing fees, jury fees, courthouse fees, and reporter fees," a definition which does nothing to resolve the uncertainty surrounding the topic, especially in the State of North Carolina. The statutes involved appear straightforward, and the use of common principles of statutory interpretation indicate that the "answer" is clear as well-one which would not only clarify the law but also allow for consistent application in the majority of cases that implicate the issue. Unfortunately, case law in North Carolina has only muddled the problem, as the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and various trial courts in the state, have taken two divergent options interpreting various cases dealing with costs, rarely attempting to provide any coherent framework for consistency or clarification. "What constitutes 'costs'?" is a question that is in dire need of conclusive resolution by the supreme court, especially in light of recent case law and legislative amendments to controlling statutes.
James Edwin Griffin III, Murky Water: What Really is Taxed as Court Costs in North Carolina?, 32 Campbell L. Rev. 127 (2009).