State v. Davis (2005)

In State v. Davis, 154 Wn.2d 291, 111 P.3d 844, 849 (Wash.), cert. granted, 546 U.S. 979, 126 S. Ct. 547, 163 L. Ed.2d 465 (2005), the Supreme Court of Washington decided that, in general, "an emergency 9-1-1 call is not of the same nature as an in-custody interrogation by police." There, a domestic violence victim, "hysterical and crying," told the 9-1-1 operator that she had been attacked. Id. at 846. In response to the operator's questions, she named her assailant and explained that "he had left the residence moments earlier." Id. In reaching its holding, the court noted that while a 9-1-1 call "involves personnel associated with the police, the 9-1-1 operator is not a police officer" and the call "is typically initiated by the victim." Id. at 849. It further stated that the purpose of the call is generally not to "bear witness," but is rather to seek help. Id. The court explained: In most cases, one who calls 9-1-1 for emergency help is not "bearing witness," whereas calls made to the police simply to report a crime may conceivably be considered testimonial. It is necessary to look at the circumstances of the 9-1-1 call in each case to determine whether the declarant knowingly provided the functional equivalent of testimony to a government agent. Id. at 850.