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CRAWFORD v. WASHINGTON - 541 U.S. 36 (2004)

CRAWFORD v. WASHINGTON

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF WASHINGTON

No. 02-9410. Argued November 10, 2003--Decided March 8, 2004

Petitioner was tried for assault and attempted murder. The State sought to introduce a recorded statement that petitioner's wife Sylvia had made during police interrogation, as evidence that the stabbing was not in self-defense. Sylvia did not testify at trial because of Washington's marital privilege. Petitioner argued that admitting the evidence would violate his Sixth Amendment right to be "confronted with the witnesses against him." Under Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U. S. 56, that right does not bar admission of an unavailable witness's statement against a criminal defendant if the statement bears "adequate 'indicia of reliability,' " a test met when the evidence either falls within a "firmly rooted hearsay exception" or bears "particularized guarantees of trustworthiness." Id., at 66. The trial court admitted the statement on the latter ground. The State Supreme Court upheld the conviction, deeming the statement reliable because it was nearly identical to, i.e., interlocked with, petitioner's own statement to the police, in that both were ambiguous as to whether the victim had drawn a weapon before petitioner assaulted him.

Held: The State's use of Sylvia's statement violated the Confrontation Clause because, where testimonial statements are at issue, the only indicium of reliability sufficient to satisfy constitutional demands is confrontation. Pp. 5-33.


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