You are here: HomeU.S. NewsConstitutionSheriff Nick Finch Acquitted, Immediately Reinstated by Governor
Thursday, 31 October 2013 22:00

Sheriff Nick Finch Acquitted, Immediately Reinstated by Governor

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Justice has been served.

Minutes after noon on Thursday, October 31, an eight-person jury acquitted Sheriff Nick Finch of both charges against him. Finch, the sheriff of Liberty County, Florida, was accused of official misconduct and falsifying records. Finch maintained that he was simply standing up for the right of the people to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment.

The jury agreed, reaching its verdict in fewer than 90 minutes. Within minutes of being found not guilty, Sheriff Finch spoke with Governor Rick Scott, who reinstated Finch within hours.

“Sheriff Nick Finch will be reinstated immediately," said Governor Scott in a written statement. "I would like to thank the members of the jury in Liberty County for their service in this trial. I would also like to thank Interim Sheriff Buddy Money for his service to the state of Florida.”

It is ironic that Scott would thank the citizens of Liberty County for their service on the jury when it was Scott’s removal of Sheriff Finch in the first place that served to effectively disenfranchise those very citizens.

The New American has followed the persecution of Sheriff Finch since it began in June, including publishing an exclusive interview with Finch days after his arrest.

In June, Finch was arrested after being charged with misconduct based on his alleged altering and destroying of official court documents. Finch, 50, was booked into the county jail but was later released on his own recognizance.

Sources close to the investigation recount the events of the night before Sheriff Finch was arrested.

At about 11:00 p.m., agents showed up at the jail with search warrants to seize the arrest records. After seizing the records, they subpoenaed employees.

Inexplicably and inexcusably, Sheriff Finch was never contacted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and was never allowed to answer questions regarding the release of Parrish or his actions related to it.

Again, regulations were ignored, the law was violated, and a good, duly elected sheriff was arrested and persecuted for defending the right of all people to keep and bear arms.

Upon learning of the incident, Governor Rick Scott immediately suspended Sheriff Finch and appointed Carl Causey, an agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as interim sheriff.

In July, Scott replaced Causey, naming Walter "Buddy" Money as the interim sheriff of Liberty County.

Governor Scott’s actions are nowhere authorized by the Florida state constitution.

Sheriff Finch is answerable to those who elected him to serve as their sheriff. If he acts in a way they find offensive or beyond his power, then his constituents can demonstrate their disdain by refusing to reelect him.

In the case of Sheriff Finch, however, Governor Rick Scott has usurped powers not given to him and has effectively disenfranchised every citizen of Liberty County who voted for Finch.

Records published by the Liberty County supervisor of elections show that Finch was elected sheriff in 2012, garnering 52.8 percent of the 3,201 votes cast.

According to court documents obtained by The New American, the case against Sheriff Finch began when Floyd Eugene Parrish was arrested on March 8 for carrying a concealed weapon. Sergeant James Hoagland of the Liberty County Sheriff’s office arrested Parrish after pulling him over and finding a loaded pistol in his pocket. Parrish was booked into a holding cell while administrative officers began working up the processing documents.

The court records released to The New American also reveal that after Sergeant Hoagland left the county jail, Sheriff Finch arrived with a member of Parrish’s family and was present while the family member visited with Parrish while the latter was still in the holding cell. Sheriff Finch then allegedly seized the arrest documents, applied “Wite Out” over his name, released Parrish, and informed him that no charges would be filed against him.

The hue and cry from the establishment focused on the supposed “irregularity” of Finch’s erasing of Parrish’s name from the arrest log. However, at the hearing on October 3, the state attorney acknowledged that is has been “common practice to Wite-Out names on the jail log of people released since 2005.”

The complaint against Sheriff Finch alleges that Sergeant Hoagland informed FDLE agents investigating the case against Finch that he (Hoagland) talked to Finch about the Parrish case and that Finch said he “believed in Second Amendment rights.”

Workers in the Liberty County sheriff’s office reportedly told investigators that Finch ordered them to release Parrish’s pistol, as well as another gun seized from his car.

Despite Finch’s acquittal, the question remains why a duly elected, constitutional sheriff was arrested for the actions he allegedly took. Why was Sheriff Finch not contacted by the FDLE or the governor and asked to answer the charges against him in a more disciplinary and less overtly legally hostile manner?

In fact, there are applicable Florida statutes setting guidelines on the manner of investigating an official suspended by the governor. Florida Statute 943.03, Subsection 2 mandates that the governor must specifically instruct in writing that the FDLE investigate anyone the governor suspends.

Will Scott and his successors use the Finch case as precedent for the assumption of the power of approval over voters’ election of county sheriffs? Will every act of every one of those sheriffs in the 67 counties in the Sunshine State be subject to summary dismissal should they do something that doesn’t sit well with the governor or his wealthy campaign supporters?

There is an additional disturbing aspect of the case not being commented on by other news outlets. Imagine that Sheriff Finch had released a man arrested and jailed for having openly preached Christianity in a public place. Would Governor Scott have been so hasty to remove Finch from office? Why would the rights protected by the Second Amendment be subordinate to those guaranteed by the First Amendment?

The protection of each of our God-given rights is as crucial to the perpetuation of liberty as any other. Freedom and self-government are threatened just as much by deprivation of the right to keep and bear arms as by a revocation of the right to exercise religion.

Governor Scott’s persecution and prosecution of a sheriff standing up for the Second Amendment rights of citizens of his county is particularly questionable given the hostile climate that threatens the right to keep and bear arms nationally.

It’s over now, though, and all is forgiven. The fact remains that Finch suffered substantial financial setbacks as a result of his removal and at press time, it was unclear whether Sheriff Finch would receive back pay for the four months he was suspended.

A defense fund was established to help Finch defray the cost of mounting a defense. It is a shame, however, that a good man, a duly elected, liberty minded lawman, was forced into this position by a few connected men and politicians eager to lean on an outsider.

“I am so grateful for all the support from patriots all across the country,” Sheriff Finch told The New American after he was acquitted. “I am thrilled to be back to work.”

 

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state.  He is the host of The New American Review radio show that is simulcast on YouTube every Monday. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

6 comments

  • Comment Link Javier O Moncada Tuesday, 05 November 2013 01:34 posted by Javier O Moncada

    What was done to Sheriff Nick Finch was unspeakable and absolutely evil, down to earth ill minded, demon possessed souls that have no respect for the law of the land, the freedom of the people, and hate anyone that's willing to stand for it. They, the opposers to Sheriff Nick Finch, are the ones that broke the law of the land and will answer to a higher law.

    God be with you, Sheriff Nick Finch!

  • Comment Link Keith Monday, 04 November 2013 11:08 posted by Keith

    The presumption of innocence is accepted as true in the absence of contrary evidence. Sheriff Nick Finch testified that he did NOT white-out or alter in any other way the log book at the jail. Two other eyewitnesses stated the same. The prosecution failed to prove otherwise. Regardless of how anyone feels about using white-out on a log entry, Sheriff Finch did NOT do so.

  • Comment Link Bob Hurt Friday, 01 November 2013 19:25 posted by Bob Hurt

    I consider it dangerous for the sheriff to white-out any log entry. Common sense dictates that a person incarcerated might need that log entry to prove abusive incarceration, or the government might need it to prove entry and exit from incarceration.

    In fact, Florida Statutes chapter 961 provides for compensating people wrongfully incarcerated, and the log entries constitute very important evidence in determining the time, date, and duration of incarceration for the purpose of determining damages to the human wrongly incarcerated. http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2013/Chapter961/All

    For that reason, I consider it "tampering with evidence" to alter the log so as to make an entry unintelligible. Apparently the Governor saw it similarly. To make matters worse, altering the log has become a standard practice in county jails, and the law should specifically require a log and forbid and punish any alterations of the log.

    http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2013/918.13
    918.13 Tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.—
    (1) No person, knowing that a criminal trial or proceeding or an investigation by a duly constituted prosecuting authority, law enforcement agency, grand jury or legislative committee of this state is pending or is about to be instituted, shall:
    (a) Alter, destroy, conceal, or remove any record, document, or thing with the purpose to impair its verity or availability in such proceeding or investigation; or
    (b) Make, present, or use any record, document, or thing, knowing it to be false.
    (2) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
    History.—s. 2, ch. 72-315.

  • Comment Link Bob Hurt Friday, 01 November 2013 19:07 posted by Bob Hurt

    The author errs in writing this:

    "Governor Scott’s actions are nowhere authorized by the Florida state constitution."

    In reality the Governor may suspend (and the Senate may fire or reinstate) any non-impeachable officer of the state, militia, or county. See Article IV Florida Constitution Article IV:

    "SECTION 7. Suspensions; filling office during suspensions.—
    (a) By executive order stating the grounds and filed with the custodian of state records, the governor may suspend from office any state officer not subject to impeachment, any officer of the militia not in the active service of the United States, or any county officer, for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony, and may fill the office by appointment for the period of suspension. The suspended officer may at any time before removal be reinstated by the governor.
    (b) The senate may, in proceedings prescribed by law, remove from office or reinstate the suspended official and for such purpose the senate may be convened in special session by its president or by a majority of its membership.
    (c) By order of the governor any elected municipal officer indicted for crime may be suspended from office until acquitted and the office filled by appointment for the period of suspension, not to extend beyond the term, unless these powers are vested elsewhere by law or the municipal charter."


    There is NO substitute for knowing the law. Apparently the governor received accurate legal advice from his counsel.

  • Comment Link Travis Ogle Friday, 01 November 2013 18:46 posted by Travis Ogle

    This entire collection of events was completely mishandled by Governor Scott. It's not by accident or coincidence that the office of County Sheriff in the State of Florida is vested with the enormous authority that it contains.

    The Sheriff of any county in Florida is accountable to the people of his county first and he alone decides the path that law enforcement matters will follow. Even Federal officers can take no action without the permission of the local sheriff.

    Given the vast size of governments today, it is easy to understand why such a close relationship between the sheriff and the citizens of each county is necessary. The citizens need the opportunity for their voices to be heard by the representatives they have elected. If a sheriff is to be removed from office it should be at the request of the voters who put him there and not the governor of the state.

    These kind of problems that involve the usurpation of power not granted by federal and/or state constitutions will continue and increase if the citizens turn a blind eye to the limitations necessary for a government of a free people to function properly.

  • Comment Link matthew schoech Friday, 01 November 2013 13:04 posted by matthew schoech

    Perhaps a starting point for Sheriff Finch would be to bring a law suit against the Governor for wrongful imprisonment seeing Gov. Scott violated the Florida Constitution in his zealousness.

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