In most cases, if the defendant files a timely notice of appeal from the judgement for possession, the trial court will not issue an execution on the judgment. If, however, the defendant appeals from an order other than the judgment for possession or in other limited circumstances, the trial court may issue an execution, and the plaintiff may levy on that execution unless a court grants a stay. (A levy is the taking or seizing of property pursuant to a writ of execution on a judgment.)
To obtain a court-ordered stay, the defendant must first seek the stay in the trial court unless filing a motion in the trial court is not practicable. The trial court is almost always the proper location to file the motion first. If filing the motion first in the trial court is impracticable or if the trial court judge denies the defendant's motion, the defendant may file a motion for a stay from a single justice of the Appeals Court. The motion to the single justice is governed by Appeals Court Administrative Order 20-6, by Mass. R. App. P. 6, and by the Appeals Court Standing Order governing motions to stay pursuant to M.R.A.P. 6.
The motion to stay should include: (1) a statement of the nature of the judgment for which the stay is sought, the name of the judge who entered the judgment, and the date of the judgment; (2) the text of the order and rationale of the trial court judge denying the motion for stay or, if no such motion was filed in the trial court, a showing why filing the motion in the trial court was not practicable; (3) a statement of the issues of law raised by the motion; (4) a statement of the specific relief requested; and (5) an addendum containing copies of the judgment, notice of appeal, and the trial court's order denying the prior motion for a stay.
The motion should be supported by a memorandum of law or legal argument, and a record appendix. The record appendix should contain any documents from the Housing Court record that are relevant to the motion and have not already been included in the addendum to the motion.
To obtain a stay, the motion to stay, memorandum, and record appendix must demonstrate (1) a likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal; (2) that the moving party will suffer irreparable harm if the stay is not granted; and (3) the harm likely to be suffered by the moving party if the stay is denied is greater than the harm to the non-moving party if the stay is allowed.
The motion to the single justice of the Appeals Court must be accompanied by either a $315 filing fee or a motion to waive filing fee and affidavit of indigency. Self-represented litigants may efile the documents using eFileMA.com or the documents may be delivered to the Clerk's Office in person or mailed, although mailing may not be suitable for urgent motions.
The Appeals Court single justice is not required to hold a hearing on a motion to stay. In fact, the single justice decides most motions to stay on the papers submitted, without a hearing, so it is important to include all relevant information, arguments, and documents within the motion and supporting memorandum.
The filing of a motion to stay does not result in a stay. A Housing Court judge or Appeals Court single justice must enter an order of a stay.
Get help with preparing and filing a motion to stay an eviction.