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“No Earlier Confession to Repeat”: Seibert, Dixon, and Question-First Interrogations


Lee S. Brett


April 2, 2021

The Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Missouri v. Seibert forbade the use of so-called question-first interrogations. In a question-first interrogation, police interrogate suspects without giving Miranda warnings. Once the suspect makes incriminating statements, the police give the warnings and induce the suspect to repeat their earlier admissions.

Lower courts are increasingly interpreting a per curiam Supreme Court case, Bobby v. Dixon, to significantly limit the scope and applicability of Seibert. These courts claim that postwarning statements need only be suppressed under Seibert when there is an “earlier confession to repeat.” In this Note, I argue that this reading of Dixon is erroneous for three reasons. First, the language that lower courts seize upon was obiter dictum. Second, the rule created by a categorical reading of Dixon is unworkable. And third, a limiting reading is inconsistent with the specific dangers of question-first interrogations and the rationales identified in the Seibert decision. When police undermine the effectiveness of Miranda warnings by using question-first tactics, any statements made after the warnings should be suppressed.

This Note received the 2020 Roy L. Steinheimer Law Review Award for outstanding student Note.


Lee S. Brett, “No Earlier Confession to Repeat”: Seibert, Dixon, and Question-First Interrogations, 78 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 451 (2021).