Sussex County Sheriff lawsuit claims denied

A judge has denied Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher’s claims that he and his deputies have the power to make arrests.

Judge Henley Graves has ruled that Delaware sheriffs do not have arrest powers, bringing to an end a lengthy debate about the position that’s been waged by Christopher.  The Sussex sheriff filed a lawsuit against the county and the state after state lawmakers passed legislation explicitly preventing sheriffs and their deputies from making arrests and carrying out other law enforcement activities.

Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent issued a statement following the court victory for the county, saying, “The county is pleased with Judge Graves’ decision in the sheriff’s legal challenge.  The court’s decision only serves to affirm what the County Council, the State Attorney General’s Office, the Delaware General Assembly, and most Sussex Countians have known and said all along.”  

Even though the courts may have ruled, Vincent acknowledges that the debate may not end.  “While this may not signal the end of the argument, the county is hopeful it will lay the groundwork in settling this long-running saga once and for all.”

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Last June, Gov. Markell signed HB. 325, which reiterates the Attorney General’s position that the sheriffs “power to arrest is no greater than that shared by any citizen.”

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