There’s a bit of confusion about appellate bonds, particularly when it comes to money judgments from a court of record.
“Is what I’ve filed good enough to protect my client from an immediate garnishment?” That’s not a legal question that any attorney wants to learn after a client’s bank account gets hit.
In every appeal, the Appellate Court Clerk’s office charges certain filing fees for the Notice of Appeal. At the same time, the appellant must file an Appeal Bond for Costs, which is a bond (generally signed by the attorney) to cover the court costs in the appeal (generally, a nominal amount).
Judgment enforcement is automatically stayed for thirty days after entry pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 62.01. But, here’s the key: The filing of an appeal and posting that initial “cost bond” do not automatically stay enforcement of a creditor’s rights under a judgment.
You’ve got a valid appeal, but you don’t have any stay on enforcement.
In order to obtain a stay of collections after the appeal is filed, the appellant must file a motion with the trial court. Ultimately, this is done by filing a “stay bond,” but, until the trial court grants such a motion and approves the amount of the bond, there is no stay of judgment enforcement. See Tenn. R. Civ. P. 62.04. Tenn. R. Civ. P. 62.05 requires that the bond be in an amount sufficient to pay “the judgment in full, interest, damages for delay, and costs on appeal.”
In short, just filing an appeal and posting a cost bond does not stay the enforcement of a judgment. Bank levies, wage garnishments, all of that can still happen.
And, if you’re a litigant or attorney who doesn’t understand this issue, then there’s a good chance that you’re in for an unpleasant surprise during your appeal. Don’t be that lawyer.