What is Audita Querela?

Legal Definition
Audita querela (Law Latin for "[the] complaint [having been] heard") is a writ, stemming from English common law, that serves to permit a defendant who has had a judgment rendered against him or her to seek relief of the consequences of such a judgment where there is some new evidence or legal defense that was not previously available. The writ is thus generally used to prevent a judgment from being executed where enforcement of that judgment would be "contrary to justice". At common law, the writ may be useful where a creditor engages in fraud before the judgment is rendered, or because the debt had been discharged, paid or otherwise satisfied after the judgment is rendered.

The writ has existed at various times in England, Canada and the United States, and possibly Scotland. In England, it fell out of use in favor of less expensive remedies, and was ultimately abolished in 1875. In Canada, the writ has either fallen into disuse or been abolished entirely. In United States federal civil law, it was abolished by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1948, but still exists in the civil procedure of some states. The writ has also been adopted to some specialized United States federal criminal practice, especially involving the effects of sentences on immigration law. As to Scotland, few records exist as to the writ, though equivalent actions exist.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
A writ applicable to the case of a defendant against whom a judgment has been recovered, (and who is therefore in danger of execution or perhaps actually in execution,) grounded on some matter of discharge which happened after the judgment, and not upon any matter which might have been pleaded as a defence to the action. 13 Mass. 453; 12 Mass. 270; 6 Verm. 243; Bac. Ab. h. t.; 2 Saund. 148, n. 1; 2 Sell. Pr. 252.

2. It is a remedial process, which bears solely on the wrongful acts of the opposite party, and not upon the erroneous judgments or acts of the court. 10 Mass. 103; 17 Mass. 159; 1 Aik. 363. It will therefore, where the cause of complaint is a proper subject for a writ of error. 1 Verm. 433, 491; Brayt. 27.

3. An audita querela is in the nature of an equitable suit, in which the equitable rights of the parties will be considered. 10 Mass. 101; 14 Mass. 448 2 John. Cas. 227.

4. An audita querela is a regular suit, in which the parties may plead, take issue, &c. 17 John. 484. But the writ must be allowed in open court, and is not, of itself, a supersedeas, which may or may not be granted, in the discretion of the court, according to circumstances. 2 John. 227.

5. In modern practice, it is usual to grant the same relief, on motion, which might be obtained by audita querela: 4 John. 191 11 S. & R. 274 and in Virginia, 5 Rand. 639, and South Carolina, 2 Hill, 298; the summary remedy, by motion, has superseded this ancient remedy. In Pennsylvania this writ. It seems, may still be maintained, though relief is more generally obtained on motion. 11 S. & R. 274. Vide, generally, Pet. C. C. R. 269; Brayt. 2 or, 28; Walker, 66 1 Chipm. 387; 3 Conn. 260; 10 Pick. 439 1 Aik. 107; 1 Overt. 425 2 John. Cas. 227 1 Root; 151; 2 Root, 178; 9 John. 221 Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The name of a writ constituting the initial process in an action brought by a judgment defendant to obtain relief against the consequences of the judgment, on account of some matter of defense or discharge, arising since its rendition and which could not be taken advantage of otherwise. Foss v. Witham, 9 Allen (Mass.) 572; Longworth V. Screven. 2 Hill (S. Ct) 298, 27 Am. Dec. 381; McLean v. Bindley, 114 Pa. 559, 8 Atl. 1; Wetmore v. Law, 34 Barb. (N. Y.) 517; Manning v. Phillips, 65 Ga. 550; Coffin v. Ewer, 5 Mete. (Mass.) 228; Gleason v. Peck, 12 Vt56, 36 Am. Dee. 329.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A writ to stay or recall an execution by reason of a fact occurring after judgment. See 36 Am. Dec. 329.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary