IL: Hospital employee seizing def’s clothing from private room at police request violated 4A

Police enlisting a hospital employee to enter defendant’s hospital room to take his clothing violated his reasonable expectation of privacy and made the employee a police agent. The seizure violated the Fourth Amendment. People v. Gill, 2018 IL App (3d) 150594, 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 195 (Apr. 3, 2018):

[*P106] The evidence adduced at the suppression hearing and trial clearly demonstrates that defendant’s clothing was located in a bag within his private hospital room when a group of four investigators arrived at the hospital. When those investigators requested that Lickiss enter defendant’s room to retrieve his clothing, Lickiss became an agent of the government for fourth amendment purposes. Because defendant enjoyed an expectation of privacy within that room that society would deem reasonable, Lickiss’s entry for the purpose of finding and taking defendant’s clothing constituted a search under the fourth amendment. While that search was supported by probable cause, there was no evidence on the record that it would have been impracticable for the investigators to obtain a search warrant prior to conducting that search. Indeed, the record makes quite clear that the investigators had ample time to do so. Accordingly, we find that the search was conducted in violation of the protections of the fourth amendment.

[*P107] Based on this conclusion, we reverse the circuit court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress, thus holding that everything following Lickiss’s entry into defendant’s room should be suppressed. This includes the accelerant-detecting canine’s alert to the clothing in the common area of the seventh floor, as well as the forensic testing on the clothing. Of course, we also vacate defendant’s conviction and, based on our prior conclusion regarding the sufficiency of the evidence (see supra ¶ 65), remand the matter for further proceedings.

[*P108] As the trial proceedings have been vacated, we need not consider defendant’s other trial-based arguments. However, defendant’s other constitutional argument—that the seizure of his truck was invalid—stems from a pretrial ruling. Accordingly, we must address that issue, as it will determine whether further evidence should be suppressed at a potential retrial.

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