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Illinois Supreme Court considering the privacy of hospitals

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(The Center Square) – The Illinois Supreme Court is considering a case involving the extent of privacy in a hospital.

While Cortez Turner was in a Murphysboro hospital room being treated for a gunshot wound in 2016, police confiscated his clothes. Turner claimed he was hit by a stray bullet.

A forensic examiner determined from Turner’s pants that he was shot within a range of three inches, and that he likely accidentally shot himself. He was convicted of taking part in a drive-by shooting that led to the death of a Murphysboro man.

Attorney Richard Whitney told the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday that Turner’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated at the hospital. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unwarranted search and seizure.

“What we have here is an invasion of the private room by police without getting permission or a warrant,” Whitney said.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Cebula said Turner gave police permission to take the clothes.

“In this appeal, the defendant is making an extraordinary request,” said Cebula. “He was convicted of murder in a bench trial in which two witnesses testified that he confessed that he participated in this deadly drive-by shooting during which he accidentally shot himself in the leg.”

Turner was convicted in 2019 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

A motion to suppress the forensic evidence on Turner’s pants was denied by an appellate court.

Some of the justices questioned whether there is an expectation of privacy in a hospital setting, especially in the emergency room. The justices are set to deliberate on the case before issuing a ruling later this year.