Delaware Supreme Court weighs sheriff powers

The Delaware Supreme Court is considering whether sheriffs in Delaware have the authority to arrest people.

The justices heard arguments Wednesday in an appeal by Jeff Christopher, Sussex County's sheriff, who argues that he is embodied with police powers by Delaware's constitution because it names sheriffs, along with other officials, as "conservators of the peace."

State and county officials disagree, however, prompting a legal battle over the role of sheriffs in Delaware's three counties.

A Superior Court judge ruled in March that Delaware's constitution does not enumerate any powers for sheriffs, and that courts have used common law to define such powers. The judge said the General Assembly was within its powers in passing a law last year barring sheriffs and their deputies in Delaware from making arrests.






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