I have encountered the noun phrase "such plea" in a lot of legal texts. Examples:

  1. In federal courts, such plea may be accepted as long as there is evidence that the defendant is actually guilty. (source)

  2. A defendant who has entered a plea of not guilty to an indictment may as a matter of right withdraw such plea at any time ... (source)

  3. ...to withdraw such plea, and in such event the entire indictment, as it existed at the time of such plea, is restored. (source)

This noun phrase strikes me as strange and ungrammatical, because as confirmed by dictionaries "plea" is a count noun. I would say "such a plea". Lawyer jargon?

  • Edit:

I think it's safe to add a number of similar examples:

  1. such waiver shall only be effective during the Waiver Period

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  • As stupid as it sounds to the rest of us, if it's a standard feature of the English language as used in the legal profession, it's pretty much automatically considered to be grammatical. If enough people say it wrong, it stops being wrong. – Lorel C. Apr 2 '19 at 18:53
  • Perhaps because they are references to a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty", and there can't be more than one such plea. That sentence would seem wrong if I wrote "more than one such a plea". – Weather Vane Apr 2 '19 at 18:58
  • I would write either such a plea or such pleas (plural)—where such, used before the noun, has the same meaning as of this type, used after the noun. (At least in the first sentence.) – Jason Bassford Apr 3 '19 at 20:43
  • @JasonBassford -- Your comment would make a good answer. – Jasper Jun 20 '19 at 19:07

The original poster's suggestion that an indefinite article is needed really only applies to the first example.

In examples 2-4, a particular plea or waiver had already been specified by the point at which "such" was used. In these cases, "such" is a synonym for "that" or "said"; it refers to the particular example that has already been defined.

  • +1 Indeed, I see no reason why the indefinite article is needed for the first example. Such entails the plea having been identified previously. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 2 '19 at 23:40

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