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Name: Davis v. Washington
Case #: 24-May
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 06/19/2006
Subsequent History: 126 S.Ct. 2266; 165 L.Ed.2d 224

Statements made to a 911 operator are not testimonial for purposes of the confrontation clause. In this case and the companion case of Hammon v. Indiana, the court considered which police interrogations produce statements that are deemed “testimonial” under Crawford v. Washington (2004) 541 U.S. 36. The court held that statements are nontestimonial when made in the course of police interrogation under circumstances that objectively indicate that the primary purpose of the interrogation is to handle an ongoing emergency. Thus, the Sixth Amendment does not bar the introduction of statements made during a 911 call in which the speaker described events as they actually happened during an ongoing emergency. However, statements are testimonial where the circumstances indicate that there is no such ongoing emergency, and that the purpose of the interrogation is to establish or prove past events that are potentially relevant to a later criminal prosecution. Thus, the Sixth Amendment does bar introduction of statements made when no emergency is in progress, and where the police doing the questioning are not trying to determine what is currently happening but what has happened in the past.