May 2015 Bar Bulletin
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May 2015 Bar Bulletin

Supersedeas Motion Practice: It's Not Super Difficult

By Averil Budge Rothrock


"You shall desist" is the meaning of the Latin term "supersedeas." In a legal context, this commands a judgment creditor to desist from enforcing a judgment. Through supersedeas, a judgment debtor can stay enforcement of a trial court decision.

Don't let this motion practice seem intimidating. The supersedeas rules and procedures in Washington courts are fairly straightforward.

The starting point for supersedeas relief is to realize that in Washington final civil judgments are immediately enforceable even if appealed. "Any person may take action premised on the validity of a trial court judgment or decision until enforcement of the judgment or decision is stayed as provided in rules 8.1 or 8.3."1 "[A] trial court judgment is presumed valid and, unless superseded, the judgment creditor has specific authority to execute on that judgment."2

The judgment debtor who wants to preserve its assets, avoid execution efforts and maintain the status quo while appealing must utilize available assets to stay the judgment.

Basic Overview

To the stay the judgment requires security. The purpose behind supersedeas security is twofold: "[I]t serves the interest of the judgment debtor by delaying the execution of the judgment, and it serves the interest of the judgment creditor by ensuring that the judgment debtor's ability to satisfy the judgment will not be impaired during the appeal process."3

If a judgment debtor seeks supersedeas relief, the judgment creditor can take comfort that at the conclusion of the appeal, if the judgment creditor prevails, satisfaction of the judgment should be relatively easy. A supersedeas filing should "guarantee that the debtor's ability to satisfy the judgment cannot be altered pending outcome of the appeal."4

Title 8 of the RAP sets out the procedure for supersedeas motion practice, the standards for different types of stays and the means for a judgment creditor to object and challenge supersedeas as a result of a cash or bond filing.

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