The Supreme Court stated in Crawford that it would “leave for another day” any effort to put forth a comprehensive definition of testimonial statements. 541 U.S. at 68. We believe that the task of defining the exact parameters of what constitutes testimonial statements for purposes of the Confrontation Clause of the U.S. Constitution is best suited for the Supreme Court.Wright involves both 911 statements and statements to responding officers, and, like the majority of the cases in this realm, it finds a way to let them all in. Some of the statements were made during an interview at the complainant’s apartment. The court’s opinion includes this remarkable passage:
It is inconsequential that during the interviews the officers took notes that they later used to refresh their memories at trial. We acknowledge that the officers took possession of some evidence at the apartment while interviewing R.R. and her sister, and Wright was in custody at that time. However, we conclude that the officers’ actions represent a response to a call for assistance and preliminary determination of “what happened” and whether there was immediate danger, rather than an effort to gather evidence for a future trial.The analogy that comes most readily to mind is provided by this memorable passage from Ring Lardner’s The Young Immigrants:
Are you lost daddy I arsked [sic] tenderly.The Minnesota Supreme Court said:
Shut up he explained.
A consequence of using the Court’s broadest formulation may be the categorization of virtually every out-of-court statement made by a declarant to a police officer as testimonial. But such a consequence would make an analysis of the interrogative qualities of interactions between declarants and the police wholly unnecessary.Well, yes. I have discussed the question of interrogation at length on this blog, in the posting titled The Interrogation Bugaboo. I believe a statement made to government officials and accusing another person of a crime should be considered testimonial irrespective of whether it was in response to interrogation. In some more doubtful circumstances, the fact that a statement was made in response to interrogation may support the conclusion that the speaker anticipated prosecutorial use of the statement – but when the statement is accusatory and made to police officers, that conclusion is clear even if the statement was made entirely at the initiative of the speaker. The Minnesota court believed that Crawford did not intend such a result. I believe that the Minnesota court is wrong, and that Crawford's references to interrogation were not intended to limit the category of statements deemed to be testimonial. But plainly the matter will not be resolved without intervention by the United States Supreme Court.