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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Pleaded or Plead: Which is More Prevalent in Indiana Appellate Opinions?

Commentary by Joel Schumm, professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law

The defendant pled guilty or the defendant pleaded guilty? Lawyers and judges disagree, sometimes forcefully, about whether “pleaded” or “pled” is the more correct usage. Two lawyers faced off in this Daily Report post, characterized as part of “a bitter, friend-splitting debate raging among lawyers about whether to use ‘pleaded’ or ‘pled.’”

A Westlaw search of the text of Indiana appellate opinions over the past decade shows a preference for the use of “pled” (2461 cases) over “pleaded” (1973 cases).* This mirrors the Indiana Supreme Court preference for “pled” (149 cases) over “pleaded” (98 cases). Disciplinary cases, which are almost always per curiam, overwhelming used “pled” instead of “pleaded” in recounting the disappointingly large number of lawyers who admitted to criminal charges. Individual justices, however, seem to prefer pleaded.

Over the past decade Justice Rucker and Justice Boehm used “pleaded” religiously while Justice Sullivan steadfastly used “pled.” Justice Massa used “pled” in his only opinion on the issue. The remaining justices used both, with Chief Justice Dickson and Justice David using “pleaded” more than “pled,” and Chief Justice Shepard using “pled” more often. In at least one opinion, both were used.
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*The searches were of “OP(pled)” and “OP(pleaded),” which ensures that headnotes, some of which use the opposite terminology, were not included in the results.
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ILB: The ILB has touched upon this topic in several earlier posts:

The press appears to follow different rules. Here from the official 2011 AP Stylebook:
plead, pleaded, pleading - Do not use the colloquial past tense form, pled.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 17, 2013 08:44 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Schumm - Commentary