Category Archives: Delaware Sheriff

** UPDATE ** Smith v. SPCA

By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer A judicial gag order has been issued on all parties concerned in the case of litigation of John "Jake" and Nancy Smith (plaintiffs) against Delaware Animal Care and Control, filed in Delaware Superior Court over possible illegal impoundment of their dog, "Millie" under guise of authority. Attorney John Brady, representing the Smiths contends that the 1981 state statute that excluded Sheriffs and Sheriff's Deputies from certification as police offices by the Delaware Council on Police Training also did not include animal control officers as police officers. The litigation essentially argues that only sworn and certified police officers can legally execute arrest and search and seizure warrants under the present Delaware Code, Title 11, Chapter 19. Both Kent and Sussex Counties have contracted animal control services with the First State Animal Read more

Sussex County’s Sheriff And Citizen Summit

On the cool breezy spring day of Saturday at DelTech's Georgetown Campus, Sussex County's Sheriff Jeff Christopher held his First "Sheriff and Citizen Summit." The meeting was attended by 335 citizens interested in what the Constitutional Sheriff has to offer the community he serves. I witnessed NO buses or large vehicles busing people in, but instead the parking lot was filled with private citizens driving themselves to this conference. With a packed agenda, the meeting started at 9 a.m. with prayer. Pastor David Whitney spoke of the job of a Constitutional Sheriff saying, "It is the job of the constitutional sheriff to safeguard the citizens of his county from unjust and unconstitutional laws." He goes on to say, "An unconstitutional act is not a law. It confers no rights. It imposes no duties. It affords no protection. It creates no office. An unconstitutional act constitutes Read more

Guest Essay On the Role of the Sheriff by Todd Mumford

As a taxpayer in Sussex County and a Law Enforcement Officer with over 17 years experience, I would like to take the time to provide you with the basis for my brief testimony before you on March 27, 2012. While I realize that there have been a couple different Attorneys General and several county attorneys review the Office of Sheriff and its duties under Delaware Code. I feel compelled to put on paper, and out to you, why I think that there are huge misconceptions on the authority of the office. The first area I will address is the idea the Sheriff is a police officer. While the argument could be made that because a Sheriff is a Fish and Wildlife Agent (7 Del Code § 1313; 10 Del Code § 2114) and a Fish and Wildlife Agent, a law-enforcement officer of DNREC, is a police officer (11 Del Code § 1911) then the Sheriff is a police officer. Some of you may recall the transitive property Read more

Comment Rescue–Jud Opines

Dear Friends, I am enjoying tremendously researching and following the fluid action on the Sussex County Sheriff. Many of you have provided me with input. I have received over 600 e-mails so far about the issue from an eclectic group of folks- Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. So far the sentiment is running about 3 to 1 in favor of the Sheriff and his deputies having arrest powers. Ironically, the actual move to remove all the Sheriff's existing powers and relegate him legally to only a process server, has come initially from the Sussex County Council of which the majority is made up of Conservative Republicans with one liberal democrat joining in the 5 to 0 unanimous vote. Even more amazing is the charge to eliminate the Sheriff's remaining powers at Legislative Hall in Dover is now being led and embraced by the Republicans. The conflict is simple-- The Constitution says one Read more

Just Strike This Bill–Guest Opinion by Chairman Wood

Dear Republican General Assembly Member: I applaud your dedication and service to our wonderful state of Delaware. Late Wednesday evening (March 21) I received a Facebook version of an unnumbered House Bill regarding an act to amend the Delaware Code relating to Sheriffs and Sheriff Deputies.  The first public disclosure of proposed HB 290 was a below the screen article in the March 23rd issue of the Delaware House of Representatives’ e-Newsletter. Since then my phone and e-mail have been flooded with Republicans voicing total dismay with the provisions of the proposed bill. I have conducted a poll of nearly 1,000 members of Sussex County Republicans.  Close to 85 percent of the responses make it clear beyond doubt that they are against this bill. Extreme displeasure has been expressed concerning this bill and its provisions.  Your continued support of this legislation will Read more

A Quick Case Against the Assault on Sheriff’s Arrest Powers

The Attorney General's office issued an opinion bordering on legal malpractice stating that the Sheriff has no arrest powers greater than the average citizen.  I guess the AG has no prosecutorial powers greater than the average citizen either because the same paragraph of the Constitution that gives the Sheriff his standing gives the AG his standing as a constitutional law enforcement officer.  Even more intriguing is that a study of the Delaware code that the opinion was based upon shows the inherent common law understanding that the Sheriff has arrest powers is recognized in 6 different titles of Delaware Code and around a dozen and a half times in several chapters.  In fact, when authority was given to animal control, or the Department of Natural Resources to conduct arrests, here is one example § 1022(a), Chapter 10, Title 3  "State forest officers shall have police powers similar Read more

An Elected Sheriff Working For The People

If the Sheriff's only duty is to serve court documents and conduct foreclosures, why have the Sheriff's powers and responsibilities diminished over the years since office the was established. At the inception of the Sheriff's office, he and his deputies had the power to arrest criminals, collect taxes, conduct surveys and in some cases, serve as judges. Was their power purposely and slowly eroded away to become what it is today; If so, to what purpose? Others have said, they don't really care what duties Sheriff's have in other states, however since the Sheriff in Delaware started with such broad powers at its conception, I believe it is a legitimate topic of discussion. I believe that the original intent of Delaware's founding fathers, who wrote our constitution are clear and I believe that intention was that the sheriff would indeed be the, "Conservator of the Peace," with law enforcement Read more