evought's picture

All authority has limits. What are the limits of Auxiliary officers?

And this Officer is to observe and follow such orders and directives, from time to time, as may be given by me, or the future Lawrence County Sheriff, or other Superior Officers acting in accordance with the laws of the State of Missouri and Lawrence County.
This commission is to continue in force during the pleasure of the Lawrence County Sheriff for the time being, under the provisions of the organizational documents of the Auxiliary and the component thereof in which this appointment is made.

So, we have orders and directives of the Lawrence County Sheriff and of other Superior Officers who are in turn limited by the laws of the State of Missouri and Lawrence County. Any of these define the limits of an officer's authority. As discussed in CLA-I, the 'laws of the State of Missouri and Lawrence County' are themselves limited by the Constitutions (US and state) which define our system of government. All officers take an oath that 'I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that of the State of Missouri, against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same...'.
It should be noted that the Sheriff is empowered by law to delegate all or part of his authority to others to carry out his duties. The Sheriff, in particular, is empowered to enforce law, investigate crimes, detain or arrest, to serve summons, and to execute the orders of the courts (liens, judgements, etc.). Deputies, by definition ("a person whose immediate superior is a senior figure within an organization and who is empowered to act as a substitute for this superior"), inherit all of his authority in these regards. According to our Organization Documents and according to Missouri law, officers of the Auxiliary do not receive these authorities. We are not Licensed Peace Officers (LPOs) and are not therefore empowered on our own to enforce law, to detain or arrest, to serve summons, or to execute the orders of the courts. We can assist the Sheriff or a Deputy (or potentially some other LPO) in doing these things, but we have no authority in these matters in and of ourselves unless and until deputized and then only temporarily within the confines of that emergency.
Even within these limits, an order from an officer, whether from an officer of the Auxiliary to a subordinate or from the superiors over the Auxiliary, namely the Sheriff and his Deputies, is void and without force if it does not comply with the law and with the Constitutions which underly the authority of the law itself. This limit directly conflicts with the concept of Chain-of-Command and intentionally so. We are not made to take an oath to serve the Sheriff and then let him sort out the Constitutional issues; the Constitution requires every officer of every kind to individually swear to uphold it.

United States v. Calley and Defense of Superior Orders

On 16 March 1968, a large number of unresisting Vietnames were herded into a ditch just outside Mai Lai and summarily executed by American soldiers. Lt. Calley received orders from a Cpt. Medina to execute Vietnamese civilians in the village and carried out these orders with respect to between 75 and 100 villagers. Calley was charged with murder, tried, and convicted. Lt. Calley defended his actions by stating that he was following orders of a superior officer and therefore was not responsible for his actions (and the actions of the men under his orders in turn).

The United States Court of Military Appeals heard the case and rejected Calley's defense, upholding the convictions for murder[United States v. Calley, 46 C.M.R. 1131 (1973)].

Lieutenant Calley's defense was that he was obeying the orders of his superior officer, Captain Medina. Because he was not free to disobey the orders, Calley maintained, he was not responsible for the Mai Lai massacre. He was therefore coerced into killing. Rejecting Calley's defense, the court ruled that every person must accept responsibility for killing. No one who obeys the order to kill can transfer responsibility. Despite the need for military discipline, which is admittedly great, the court held that officers must disobey clearly illegal orders, particularly when they lead to death.["Criminal Law, 5th Edition" by Joel Samaha, West Publishing, St. Paul, MN 1996 pp 253-254]