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April 6, 2012     Cape Gazette
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April 6, 2012

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6 FRIDAY, APRIL 6 - MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2012 Cape Gazette Letters )) Representative explains sheriff legislation There has been a great deal of misinformation circulating re- garding legislation seeking to clar- ify that county sheriffs in Delaware do not have arrest pow- ers (House Bill 290). Here are some of the reasons I'm support- ing this measure. The current state constitution (revised in 1897) defines county sheriffs as "conservators of the peace," but this phrase is not de- fined. The constitution alsodes- ignates state chancellors and judges as "conservators of the peace," and none of these officials have arrest powers. In the 115 years since our state constitution was last revised, the General Assembly has made nu- merous additions and changes to the Delaware Code refining which officials have arrest powers. In a clear indication of legislative in- tent, county sheriffs have been specifically excluded from these revisions. More recently, Kent County Sheriff Norman Wood requested the state Attorney General's Of- fice to issue an opinion On this is- sue. In the Feb. 23, 2012 opinion, State Solicitor Lawrence Lewis stated: "After consideration of the Delaware Constitution, statutes and case decisions, we conclude that the sheriff and his deputies do not have authority to arrest." A 1995 opinion issued by the At- torney General's Office also con- cluded that arrest powers were not part of the county sheriffs' powers as codified in Delaware law. However, Lewis also suggested some additional action was need-- ed. "We must recognize that we are essentially interpreting the in- tent of the General Assembly over the course of 30 or 40 years," he said. "We think the wisest course for all concerned is to seek clarifi- cation from the General Assembly as to whether it wishes to grant county sheriffs the power to ar- rest. In the meantime, we adhere to our view that sheriffs do not have the statutory or common law authority to make arrests." Despite decades of long-stand- ing practice about what consti- tutes the duties of the county sheriff, despite laws showing clear legislative intent and two opin- ions from different attorneys gen- eral, the current Sussex County sheriff has instructed his deputies to act outside their scope of au- thority. They have made traffic stops as well as conducted operations specifically to make arrests. Sus- sex County Council members- have worried that this activity could expose the county's taxpay- ers to huge financial liabilities from lawsuits filed by illegally de- tained citizens. It was with that in mind that they unanimously vot- ed to ask the General Assembly to Continued on page 7 Editorial )) Conditional use saga ends on sour note ussex County Council and its insurance carrier recently agreed to a $725,000 payment to attorney Chase Brockstedt settle a conditional use fiasco. The issue involved property on Savannah Road, out- side Lewes, on which Brockstedt proposed two office buildings. Sussex is out the$25,000 deductible, the legal fees it incurred in defend- ing the case and any filture increases in insur- ance policy premiums that may result. The in- surance company is out the rest. That ends a messy saga. The judge rightly ruled that Brockstedt's due process rights were violated when he wasn't allowed to address concerns, raised by the City of Lewes and the county's wastewater systems officials, prior to council voting on the conditional use request. Violation of a right guaranteed by the U.S. Con- stitution triggered Brockstedt's appeal to the federal court. The judge signaled, through her decision, that she considered council's action so arbitrary and capricious it required council members be held individually responsible for negative consequences suffered by Brockstedt as a result of Council's due process misstep. That clearly sent a chill through council cham- bers. Insurance or no insurance, threat of indi- Caoe Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which Frederick. soorts editor: Laura Ritter, news editor: and Jen Ellingswortn. arts and entertainment editor. vidual liability potentially involving millions of dollars is sobering. The judge ruled the county should approve the conditional use request as recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. That ruling and the threat of individual liability felt like a gun to council's collective head. They wasted no time in revoting and approving the conditional use unanimously. Forget City of Lewes concerns about the haphazard evolution of its Savannah Road gateway from residential to commercial and professional. Forget con= cems about the Cotmty's capacity to treat the additional wastewater generated by the pro- posed use. Those were potentially legitimate concerns that deserved discussion, along with Brockstedt's opportunity to address them, be- fore council voted. That's where justice left the rails. Instead of putting the gun to council's head, the judge should have suggested the process start anew at the point where it went astray. Brockstedt would still have had proper claim to sue for damages, but the ultimate deci- sion about the conditional use would still have been in council's hands where it belongs, but only after all parties had their, chance to weigh in. includes Dennis Forney, publisher: Trish Vernon. editor: Dave Weather Picture )) fax 6z :,com. Web Poll )) Most readers say get out of Afghanistan now We should get out of Afghanistan: A PAIR OF BUZZARDS finds a Neck Road. high perch in the sun RON MACARTHUR PHOTO n 2014 atop an old barn off Long Now Never 12.4% 83.5% 4% The total votes counted were 249. To par- ticipate in the current web poll, visit Cape Gazette Volume 18 No. 86 Publisher. Dennis Forney, Ext. 303 Editor, Trish Vernon, Ext. 315 newsroom ~capegazette.corr Office Manager, Kathy Emery, Ext. 305 Kemery@capegazette,corr Sports Editor. Dave Frederick, Ext. 304 fredman@capegaze[ News Editor. Laura Ritter. Ext. 320 A&E Editor, Jen EIlingsworth, Ext. 319 jen@capegaze[[ Copy Editor. Bernadette Hearn, Ext. 316 bernie NEWS Henry Evans, Ext. 336 nevans@capegazette,com Ron MacArthur Ext. 318 Ryan Mavity, Ext. 337 Kara Nuzback, Ext, 317 Rachel Swick Mavity. Ext. 321 Nick Roth Ext, 335 Melissa Steele, Ext. 338 ~nelissasteeie@capegazet[e,com Molly MacMillan mollymac@capegaze~m.corc SPORTS WRITERS Tim Bamforth tim@seashorest Frederick Schranck Fschranck@HoleB; CONTRIBUTORS Susan Frederick Nancy Katz Chris Antonio Eric Burnley Denise Clemens Jonn McDonald Bob YesDel< WEBMASTER Catherine M. Tanzer PHOTOGRAPHERS Dan Cook Steven BilluDs PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Norma Parks. Ext, 309 nparks@capegazette,com CLASSIFIED Sandy Bare Ext. 300 Kathy Long, Ext. 302 ADVERTISING Cindy Bowlin, Ext. 307 Sharon Hudson. Ext, 306 Amanda Neafie. Ext. 311 amanoa Chris Rausch, Ext. 312 crauscl- Steve Lhotsky. Ext. 313 stevel Jamie Shinault. Ext. 310 . PRODUCTION STAFF Chris Wildt Teresa Rodriguez Kristin Corne Edwin Krumm ChristoDner D. Foster DISTRIBUTION Joni Weber Scott Vickers SUBSCRIPTIONS Sally Chaney, Email for news, letters: Email for advertising: Email to subscribe: Email for web: weema About Cape Gazette: The Caoe Gazette (USPS 010294), known office of publication at 17585 Nassau Commons Blvd., Lewes, DE 19958. is oublished ever, Tuesday and Friday by Cape Gazette Ltd Periodicals postage oaid at Lewes, Delaware. Subscriptions are available at $39 per year in Sussex County: $56 elsewhere. Address all correspondence to : Cape Gazette. P.O. Box 213. Lewes. DE 19958 FeleDhone: 302-645-7700 FAX: 302-645-1664 POSTMASTER: Send address cnanges to The Caoe Gazette, P.O. Box 213 Lewes 3E 19958