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ISSAQUAH LAW GROUP   PERSONAL INJURY LITIGATION LAWYERS

Issaquah Law Group - Injury Litigation Attorneys

TRUST: Personal injuries are personal. Which is why the attorneys at ILG treat every client and every case differently. Because they are different, and extremely personal. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built on trust. Trust that you will be heard. Trust that you will be protected. Trust that every effort will be made to see justice done in your case. The singular goal of every ILG attorney is to earn and preserve that trust.

EXPERIENCE: ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals and we bring this experience to bear on behalf of our clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims arising out of motor vehicle accidents, bus versus pedestrian accidents, defective and dangerous products, medical malpractice, slip/trip and fall accidents, and catastrophic losses due to fire.

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In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

Excited Utterance Still Exciting: No Violation of Confrontation Clause

State v. Pugh

Pugh beat up Mrs. Pugh. She immediately called 911 while he was within eyesight. Her statements that Pugh was beating her up were an excited utterance and the jury hearing the statements was no violation of the confrontation clause.

To determine if a statement is in fact an excited utterance, the courts look to four factors:

(1) whether the speaker is speaking of events as they are actually occurring or instead describing past events; (2) whether a reasonable listener would recognize that the speaker is facing an ongoing emergency; (3) whether the questions and answers show that the statements were necessary to resolve the present emergency or instead to learn what had happened in the past; and (4) the level of formality of the interrogation.

The court went on to explain that the statement to the 911 operator was an excited utterance:

     Here, read out of context, some of Bridgette Pugh's statements appear to describe past events. For example, she said that "[m]y husband was beating me up really bad." She also said that he was walking toward the street and that she could not see him, indicating that she was no longer threatened by him. On the other hand, many of her statements during the call show that her overriding purpose in calling 911 was to obtain police assistance to ensure her safety and medical assistance for her injuries. Although she could not see Mr. Pugh, she expressed concerns about being beaten again if she went outside. She obviously thought he was still close by and remained a danger, and in fact he was arrested outside the apartment in the parking lot just as Officer Meissner was leaving the building.

      A number of the 911 operator's questions and Mrs. Pugh's responses also indicate that responses were sought to resolve a present emergency, including questions about whether Pugh was armed, whether he had been drinking, and questions about his identity. The Court in Davis indicated that statements might be nontestimonial if police interrogation, objectively viewed, was an effort to establish an assailant's identity so that dispatched officers might know whether they would be encountering a violent felon. That appears to be the case here.

The court then continues into an interesting discussion on the development of the excited utterance hearsay exception, its applicability given the confrontation clause, and the development of the hearsay rule as arising from res gestae (and its pre-constitutional development). Its an interesting read if you're a legal history buff.

Conviction affirmed.

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