Two Ideological Stances
in Taking Guilty Pleas
In chapter 3 I showed how the judges index elements of the written procedural rule, Rule 17, that governs Arizona guilty pleas, and in so doing adhere to the written law. The guilty plea procedure can be thought of as a sequence of topics, discrete discourse units, each of which indexes a different aspect of Rule 17. At the same time, written case law from Arizona appellate courts that interprets Rule 17 influenced the way the judges with whom I worked hear guilty pleas. Case law interpreting Rule 17 only requires the judges to make sure during the guilty plea that there is evidence in the written record of the defendant's case that the plea is knowing and voluntary. Rule 17 itself, on the other hand, states that knowingness and voluntariness must be established through interaction with defendants themsekves. As I also explained in Chapter 3, all the judges create a string of topics that index different parts of Rule 17. All do more than case law requires of them and less than Rule 17 asks of them. In their spoken procedures, then, the judges reflect the influence of more than one genre of written law but no slavish adherence to either of the genres on which I focus, so we begin to get a sense of the interpretive agency of the judges as social actors.
In chapter 4, I take a rather different approach to the same spoken guilty pleas initially analyzed in chapter 3. As chapter 3 suggests, the judges constitute an interpretive community in that they have a good deal in common in the way they hear guilty pleas. But in this chapter I show how within this community, there are systematic differences among the judges in the way they take the plea and in the way they talk about why they take the pleas as they do. I characterize these differences as record- oriented versus procedure-oriented strategies.
In chapter 3, I explained that the procedural rule governing the guilty plea, Rule 17, requires the judge to determine in the procedure that a defendant is pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily. Some judges explained their interactional strategies in