Today we are asked the question whether, when one spouse consents to a search of the entire house, the apparent authority doctrine extends that consent to an androgynous, unmarked, unlocked, briefcase kept in a common area of the home, which could reasonably hold the object of the search. Based on the facts of this case, we hold that it was not objectively unreasonable for the officer to believe the consent to search the home extended to the briefcase, and the apparent authority doctrine applies. Because Appellant’s wife had apparent authority to consent to the search, the military judge did not abuse his discretion in admitting the evidence found in the briefcase during the permissive search or the evidence based on the derivative seizure and subsequent command authorized search of Appellant’s computer.With that synopsis, it is hard to argue with the unanimous holding. That's not to say that CAAFlog commenter Bill Cassara and the fighting . . . ducks . . . at Code 45 did anything but a stellar job framing the issues to get it this far. I haven't seen Code 46's briefs on the issue, but from the way the opinion came out they did their job, too. And while our MIA contributor Guert's impassioned commentary on this case below stands as some of the best blogging on this site to date, the facts didn't shake out quite like he thought. No men's briefcase, just an unidentified briefcase. Wife wasn't a clerk at Blockbuster, but the manager. The Court even cited Melgar, Guert! Thankfully Guert only predicted the demise of Gallagher's 404(b) holding, lest his perfect prediction streak be broken.
As for United States v. Adams, No. 07-0796, I will have to leave that to the pros. I have to catch some dinner.