The Invisible Revolution in Plea Bargaining: Managerial Judging and Judicial Participation in Negotiations
King and Wright, in the most comprehensive study of judicial participation in plea negotiations since the 1970s, reveal a stunning array of new procedures that involve judges routinely in the settlement of criminal cases. Interviewing nearly one hundred judges and attorneys in ten states, they found that what once were informal, disfavored interactions have quietly, without notice, transformed into highly structured best practices for docket management. King and Wright learned of grant-funded problem-solving sessions complete with risk assessments and real-time information on treatment options; multicase conferences where other lawyers chime in; settlement courts located at the jail; settlement dockets with retired judges; full-blown felony mediation with defendant and victims; felony-court judges serving as lower court judges; and more. They detail the reasons these innovations in managerial judging have developed so recently on the criminal side, why they thrive, and why some judges have not joined in.