Confession of error

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Confession of error is a legal practice whereby the Solicitor General of the United States in his or her role representing the federal government before the Supreme Court of the United States admits a lower court incorrectly decided a case and it is thereby sent back for reconsideration. By confessing error, the Solicitor General declares that the federal government's position, which prevailed in the lower court, was wrong. The Supreme Court typically then vacates the lower court's judgment and remands the case to allow the lower court to consider it in light of the confession of error.[1][2]

One example is that of Solicitor General Drew S. Days III, who argued in a petition for certiorari in Knox v. United States[3] that the Circuit Court's decision had been wrong, even though the Circuit Court had found in favor of the government. He urged the Supreme Court to vacate Knox's conviction for possession of child pornography; they remanded the case to Circuit Court.[4]


  1. ^ "Solicitor General confessions of error". PrawfsBlawg. March 1, 2010. Retrieved February 23, 2011. (Discussing GVRs (grant, vacate, remand) in the context of confessions of error).
  2. ^ "Confession of Error by the Solicitor General". Michigan Law Review. 74 (5): 1067–1083. April 1976. JSTOR 1287833.
  3. ^ United States v. Knox, 977 F.2d 815, 817 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. granted, 113 S. Ct. 2926, vacated and remanded, 114 S. Ct. 375 (1993), aff'd, 32 F.3d 733 (3d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 1994 WL 512613 (U.S. Jan. 17, 1995).
  4. ^ Rosenzweig, David M. (1993–1994). "Confession of Error in the Supreme Court by the Solicitor General". The Georgetown Law Journal. 82: 2079. Retrieved February 25, 2011.