Washington v. Fedorov (Majority)Annotate this Case
Roman Fedorov was arrested for attempting to elude law enforcement and driving under the influence. He was transported to jail for the purpose of administering a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) test. Fedorov asked for, and was granted, the opportunity to speak with an on-call defense attorney by telephone before consenting to take the BAC test, pursuant to CrR 3 .1. The Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper, however, remained in the one-room jail, citing safety concerns and his need to perform a fifteen minute observation period before administering the BAC test. The trooper stood out of earshot at the far side of the room. Fedorov and his attorney chose to converse only in yes/no questions, fearing Fedorov would blurt out something incriminating. Fedorov argues that the presence of the trooper in the room violated his right to counsel because only with absolute privacy could the right to counsel be effective. The Supreme Court held that the rule-based right to counsel did not provide for a right to absolute privacy for conversations between attorney and client. "Once contacted, privacy between the arrestee and attorney may be balanced against legitimate safety and practical concerns, and challenges alleging such violations are reviewed under the totality of the circumstances."