Washington Law Review


Before the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Crawford v. Washington, Washington State courts often admitted statements of unavailable alleged child abuse victims through the hearsay testimony of Washington State Child Protective Services (CPS) workers. In Crawford, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a new "testimonial" standard for the admissibility of out-of-court statements. The Court held that the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment bars testimonial out-of-court statements unless the declarant is unavailable and the defendant had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. The Court did not clearly define the term testimonial, which left the matter open to interpretation by lower courts. The Crawford decision calls into question the continued admissibility of an unavailable child's statement to a CPS worker. This Comment argues that Washington State courts should determine whether a child's statement to a CPS worker is testimonial by analyzing whether the statement is formal and whether the child gave the statement in connection with a government investigation. The language in Crawford and case law from other jurisdictions support this fact-specific inquiry. Therefore, statements to CPS workers that Washington State courts most likely would have admitted before Crawford may now be testimonial and thus inadmissible at trial unless the defendant had a prior opportunity to cross-examine the child.

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