(redirected from Stay behind)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


The act of temporarily stopping a judicial proceeding through the order of a court.

A stay is a suspension of a case or a suspension of a particular proceeding within a case. A judge may grant a stay on the motion of a party to the case or issue a stay sua sponte, without the request of a party. Courts will grant a stay in a case when it is necessary to secure the rights of a party.

There are two main types of stays: a stay of execution and a stay of proceedings. A stay of execution postpones the enforcement of a judgment against a litigant who has lost a case, called the Judgment Debtor. In other words, if a civil litigant wins money damages or some other form of relief, he may not collect the damages or receive the relief if the court issues a stay. Under rule 62 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, every civil judgment is stayed for ten days after it is rendered. An additional stay of execution lasts only for a limited period. It usually is granted when the judgment debtor appeals the case, but a court may grant a stay of execution in any case in which the court feels the stay is necessary to secure or protect the rights of the judgment debtor.

The term stay of execution may also refer to a halt in the execution of a death penalty. This kind of stay of execution normally is granted when a court decides to allow an additional appeal by a condemned prisoner. Such stays of execution may be granted by executives, such as governors or the president of the United States, or by appeals courts.

A stay of proceedings is the stoppage of an entire case or a specific proceeding within a case. This type of stay is issued to postpone a case until a party complies with a court order or procedure. For example, if a party is required to deposit collateral with the court before a case begins, the court may order the proceedings stayed for a certain period of time or until the money or property is delivered to the court. If the party fails to deposit the collateral, the court may cite the party for Contempt of court and impose a fine or order incarceration.

A court may stay a proceeding for a number of reasons. One common reason is that another action is under way that may affect the case or the rights of the parties in the case. For instance, assume that a defendant faces lawsuits from the same plaintiffs in two separate cases involving closely related facts. One case is filed in federal court, and the other case is filed in state court. In this situation one of the courts may issue a stay in deference to the other court. The stay enables the defendant to concentrate on one case at a time.

The term stay may also be used to describe any number of legal measures taken by a legislature to provide temporary relief to debtors. For example, under section 362(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, a debtor who files for bankruptcy receives an automatic stay immediately upon filing a voluntary bankruptcy petition. Used in this sense, the term stay refers to the right of the debtor to keep creditors at bay during the resolution of the bankruptcy case.

Further readings

Hazard, Geoffrey C., Jr., Colin C. Tait, and William A. Fletcher. 1994. Cases and Materials on Pleading and Procedure: State and Federal. 7th ed. Westbury, N.Y.: Foundation Press.


Capital Punishment.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. a court-ordered short-term delay in judicial proceedings to give a losing defendant time to arrange for payment of the judgment or move out of the premises in an unlawful detainer case. (See: stay of execution)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
'When they realised their mistake, they asked the class to stay behind and take Paper One as well.
"They don't have to stay behind. They're out first in the morning and then come in last with us.
Carr will now stay behind bars until mid-May, if she were to serve half her sentence, and be released on licence.
Only practice and time will give the coach and players the best idea of who should stay behind and who should run in this situation.
Insiders revealed yesterday Mel wanted to stay behind the cameras to direct the project, with Tom starring.
Because it takes a relatively small amount of any highly volatile organic compound to saturate waxes, only a small fraction of such chemicals that contact leaves will stay behind. However, McLachlan notes, "the semivolatile contaminants do not saturate [leaves]," so a greater proportion of those will be absorbed.
The judge told Price he would have to stay behind bars while prosecution and defence barristers prepared papers for the trial.
You get on well with the other students, so confide in one you trust and get him to stay behind with you if you're asked to again.
The 26-year- old former girl friend of double child killer Ian Huntley applied tobe let out with an electronic tag and a night-time curfew but was told by prisons chief Martin Narey that she must stay behind bars.
The 26-year-old former girlfriend of double child killer Ian Huntley applied to be let out with an electronic tag and a night-time curfew but was told by prisons chief Martin Narey that she must stay behind bars.
Convicts will stay behind bars at St Mary's Guildhouse, in Coventry, until enough money is raised to pay for their freedom.
One of the more common dilemmas faced by the top wrestler is that while it's safer to stay behind the bottom man, it's necessary to come out to the side to work for a pin.