Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher (Photo: WBOC)
GEORGETOWN, De.- Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher said he plans to appeal a judge's ruling against him in his battle to gain authoritative police powers.
Tuesday's ruling by Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves came in a lawsuit filed by Christopher against state and county officials.
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."
Graves agreed with attorneys for the county and state who argued 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.
"The Department of Justice is pleased with the Court's ruling," said Delaware Deputy Attorney General Edward Black in a statement.
"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 – that Delaware sheriffs and their deputies are not constitutionally instilled with the powers of arrest or law enforcement authority," said Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent in a statement.
"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," continued Vincent.
Christopher wants to hear his argument heard in the Delaware State Supreme Court.
"I'm not one to just lie down and let something run over top of us. I'm just not going to do it. I'm going to stand there and defend [the people] as much as I can," Christopher said.
Christopher says he plans to consult with his attorneys, but is certain he will file an appeal.
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