Proceedings, in the legal sense, generally refer to the process of settling a case in court. When this process is stopped, either permanently or temporarily, it may be referred to as a stay of proceedings. Although one of the parties to a case may request a stay, only a judge can order it. Furthermore, a judge can make the order without a request from either of the parties. Such an injunction may be ordered in state, federal, and international courts, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).
A stay of proceedings may stop a particular process in a court case or it may stop the case altogether. Proceedings may be interrupted in this manner in either a criminal procedure or a civil procedure. The verdict may be announced in a civil trial, for example, but the court may stay the award hearing. The court may do this if compensatory damages are to be awarded but the plaintiff has not presented adequate documentation to support her claims of the costs incurred.
In such an instance, it is likely that the court would order the stay and provide a date by which the plaintiff must submit the required documentation. In some instances, however, a judge may order a stay of proceedings without providing a date that the case will continue. When this happens, the stay often becomes permanent. If this is done in a criminal case before the verdict is pronounced, the accused remains innocent, no matter how far the trial has progressed, because his guilt has not been proven.
There are numerous reasons why a court may order a stay of proceedings. In some instances it is done because some requirement has not been met. Plaintiff misconduct can provide the court with a reason to determine it best to stop a case at a certain point. It is also possible that a state court received the order to halt the proceedings from a federal court.
A judge has the authority to order a stay of proceedings. This cannot be done by the plaintiff, defendant or the legal counsel of either party. One of the parties to a case may be able to file a motion for a stay. This is a document that will be presented to a judge asking for this action to be taken. Usually, it must contain the reason that this action is being requested and the length of time that the petitioner wishes to have the stay in effect.