In United States v. Morales, No. 16-16507 (June 29, 2018) (Ed Carnes, Marcus, Ross), the Court upheld the defendant’s felon in possession conviction and sentence.
First, the Court upheld the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress a warrantless search of the home based on the consent of a co-occupant. The Court determined that the consent was voluntary because the two officers did not threaten or intimidate her, she was not restrained, she fully cooperated, and they explained that she had the right to refuse consent. The Court then rejected the defendant’s argument that her consent was invalid because the officers intentionally declined to ask him, a physically present co-occupant, for consent. The Court emphasized that the defendant did not object, even though he was not far away from the door, and there was no evidence that the officers intentionally removed him from the area so that he could not refuse consent. And the officers were not required to ask him whether he objected where the co-occupant consented.
Second, the Court found that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. The defendant admitted that he found the guns, brought them into the home, and placed them in the bag where they were found. The Court rejected the defendant’s argument that his confession was not sufficiently corroborated by other evidence, including the guns, ammunition, bag, and testimony of the searching officer.
Third, and finally, the Court rejected the defendant’s argument that his ACCA sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. That argument was foreclosed by precedent, and the defendant’s “out-of-the-blue” argument that the prior precedent rule does not apply to sentencing issues was “without any support in the law.”