7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: United States of America v. Javares Hudson
Case No.: 23-1108
Officials: Wood, Scudder, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Suppression of Evidence
On January 23, 2022, Javares Hudson walked into the Carle BroMenn Medical Center seeking emergency treatment for a gunshot wound. While an officer investigating the shooting stood outside Hudson’s hospital room, medical staff discovered Hudson was concealing “something plastic” in his mouth. Medical staff spent nearly twenty minutes admonishing Hudson to spit out the item before he finally complied, revealing a device used to convert a firearm into a fully automatic weapon. Hudson was subsequently indicted and moved to suppress the device, arguing that the medical staff acted as government agents in conducting a warrantless search. The district court denied the motion. Hudson pleaded guilty but reserved the right to appeal the denial of the motion to suppress.
The Seventh Circuit upheld the denial of the motion, emphasizing that mere knowledge and inaction do not suffice to establish an agency relationship. Evidence of government involvement or active encouragement of the private search is essential for a court to deem it unconstitutional. In this context, the officer answered questions but did not instruct the medical staff on how to proceed. The facts supported the conclusion that the medical staff’s actions were driven by the intent to provide medical treatment, not to aid law enforcement. The court highlighted that both the officer and the medical staff operated under the assumption that Hudson was concealing drugs, expressing concerns about the potential for overdose.