Davis v. Washington
Hammon v. Indiana
126 S. Ct. 2266 (2006)

  • In Davis v. Washington, Davis’s ex-girlfriend made a 911 call in which she stated that Davis had assaulted her and just fled the scene.
  • In Hammon v. Indiana, when police responded to a reported domestic disturbance, Hammon’s wife said nothing was wrong, but let them in.  After entering, police separated wife from Hammon and interviewed her, and in response to their questions, she said Hammon assaulted her, and she also swore to an affidavit to the same effect.
  • At both trials, the witnesses did not appear but the prosecutors attempted to introduce their statements to the police.
    • In both cases, the defendants objected, arguing that the statements violated the Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment.
    • See Crawford v. Washington (541 U.S. 36 (2004))
  • In both cases, the Trial Judge allowed the statements to be admitted.
  • The Trial Courts convicted both defendants.  They appealed.
  • The Appellate Courts affirmed.  The defendants appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court combined both cases.
  • The US Supreme Court affirmed Davis’ conviction, but overturned Hammon’s.
    • The US Supreme Court found that questioning in Davis was not “interrogation” and the statements were not “testimonial.”  Questioning in Hammon was “interrogation” and the statements were “testimonial.”
      • “Statements are nontestimonial when made in the course of police interrogation under circumstances objectively indicating that the primary purpose of the interrogation is to enable police assistance to meet an ongoing emergency.  They are testimonial when the circumstances objectively indicate that there is no such ongoing emergency, and that the primary purpose of the interrogation is to establish or prove past events potentially relevant to later criminal prosecution.”
      • Questioning designed “to resolve the present emergency, rather than simply to learn . . . what had happened in the past” is not likely to elicit “testimonial” statements.
      • “[A] conversation which begins as an interrogation to determine the need for emergency assistance . . . [may] evolve into testimonial statements.”