DOVER, Del. (AP/WBOC)- A Delaware judge has ruled that the state constitution does not give police powers to county sheriffs.
Tuesday's ruling by Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves came in a lawsuit filed by the Sussex County sheriff against state and county officials.
Sheriff Jeff Christopher argued that he is embodied with police powers by the state constitution, which names sheriffs, along with other officials, as "conservators of the peace."
But Graves agreed with attorneys for the county and state who argued that the constitution does not enumerate any powers for sheriffs, and that courts have used common law to define such powers. Graves agreed that the General Assembly was within its powers in passing a law last year barring sheriffs and their deputies in Delaware from making arrests.
In his conclusion, Graves ruled, "This court declares and holds that a sheriff in Delaware shall not be involved in law enforcement and shall not act in any capacity as a police officer or peace officer. This decision moots the sheriff's complaints that the county has not properly funded his office and attempts to meddle in his business."
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