Sussex County sheriff's arrest powers struck down by Del. SupCo

By Amy Cherry 2:26pm, October 7, 2013 - Updated 6:03pm, October 7, 2013
The state's highest court affirms a lower court ruling that sheriffs don't have arrest powers in the Delaware Constitution.

Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher had argued that he is embodied with police powers by Delaware's constitution, which names sheriffs, along with other officials, as "conservators of the peace."

But the Delaware Supreme Court's opinion says the sheriff's common law arrest power is not fundamental to his constitutional role as a "conservator of peace."

Christopher tells our sister station Delaware 105.9 he believes the ruling may have been influenced by politics.

"It's disappointing to me, personally, of course, but I think what's happening in my opinion, is there's too much in the way of politics going on in this nation in our court systems," says Christopher.

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Christopher also says the performance of his office hasn't been affected by his prolonged legal battle.

"As far as the County Council stands is, I've always known that they're against me for whatever reason. I believe politics plays a role in it. The attorneys have looked at this and said that they somewhat expected this to be the ruling in Delaware and mentioned to me many times that it has to be taken out of Delaware to get a fair shake," he says.

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The opinion states the sheriff's arrest power can be modified or even eliminated by statute.

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