Judges Hurlbutt and Martoche dissented, noting that,
a homeowner's authority over the premises does not extend to a 'guest's closed container (or similar item) . . . customarily used to hold one's most personal belongings'. Thus, '[o]verwhelmingly, the courts have . . . rejected the sufficiency of a host's general consent to search premises to validate the search of a guest's overnight bag, purse, dresser drawers used exclusively for the guest's personal effects, or similar objects.'
(Id. at 3 [citing People v Gonzalez, 88 NY2d 289, 295][emphasis in original].)
Given the burden to establish the sister's "common authority" over the dresser, and further given the undisputed proof developed at the hearing (that the "dresser, owned by defendant's sister, had been placed in the living room for the exclusive use of defendant, and had not been used by anyone else" [Id.]), the dissenters would have held that the People failed to meet their burden to prove the sister had authority to consent to the search.
The majority did not attempt to distinguish Gonzalez, which is odd since it seems Gonzalez is a Court of Appeals decision factually on-point and seemingly dispositive against the majority's argument. One wonders if the majority's decision would have been any different if the sister had loaned Mr. Loomis a duffel bag to keep his stuff in, and the police had searched the duffel bag containing Mr. Loomis' personal items on her consent. It doesn't seem like the sister's authority to consent to a search of her brother's possessions should turn on the type of container she allows him to exclusively use while a guest, but the majority's opinion would seem to hold otherwise. I guess the lesson to learn is that, while an overnight guest at a friend's or relative's house, keep your incriminating evidence in your own suitcase (or instruct your host on the niceties of Fourth Department precedent and make sure they know enough not to consent to a search of your stuff).