The controversy surrounding Finch, an adamant supporter of the Second Amendment, began when he prevented a Liberty County man, Floyd Parrish, from being booked into the jail on the charge of carrying concealed weapon after being detained by one of Finch’s Deputies. The distinction of Mr. Parrish having not been formally booked into the jail plays a crucial role in the events that follow. Both the defense and the prosecution agree that Sheriff Finch had the authority to release Parrish prior to him being booked.
The actual charges
stem from the fact that the incomplete jail logs were altered with white out to remove Mr. Parrish’s name from the record. Now a jury is set to decide if Sheriff Finch altered the logs or ordered someone else to do it, and then they are required to decide if it was done simply to save space in the log, or if somehow the Sheriff was intending to cover up an action that both sides agree was legal.
The Deputy that detained Parrish filed the complaint that initiated the charges against Finch. He did so on May 1st, more than two months after the incident.
The two months between the incident and the Deputy filing his complaint:
Prior to the Parrish incident, Finch had reportedly
received multiple complaints from citizens alleging the Deputy had overstepped his authority. Due to the formal complaints and phone calls about the Deputy, Finch launched an internal investigation into the Deputy’s actions. The Deputy resigned from his position, which ended the internal investigation. Shortly after resigning, he filed the complaint against Finch.
The relevant section of the statute Finch was charged under reads
(1) It is unlawful for a public servant, with corrupt intent to obtain a benefit for any person or to cause harm to another, to:
(a) Falsify, or cause another person to falsify, any official record or official document;
(b) Conceal, cover up, destroy, mutilate, or alter any official record or official document or cause another person to perform such an act; or
(c) Obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to the commission of a felony that directly involves or affects the public agency or public entity served by the public servant.
Joe Wolverton, II, J.D., Constitutional Attorney and reporter for the New American, had this to say
about problems the prosecution faces.
… the key phrase in the crime of official misconduct is “with corrupt intent.”
It should be noted at this point, that the man arrested by the deputy — Floyd Eugene Parrish — was never booked. He was merely being detained in a holding cell while the booking documents were being worked up by the jail administrative staff. A sheriff — any sheriff — may choose not to formally charge a detainee. Then, any documents related to that case may be destroyed as they are no longer legally required to be filed. Nothing Sheriff Finch did in this case is corrupt, illegal, unethical, or unheard of. Every single act falls well within the normal course of business for a county sheriff and a county jail.
Back to the charges. In the law, the “corrupt intent” element is known as the mens rea, or requisite mental state of the crime. Basically, if a person commits an act, but does so without the requisite mental state, a crime is not committed.
Joe Metsa of the Oath Keepers took the time to express his views on the Sheriff Finch’s case and the upcoming rally.
We are having this Rally for Sheriff Nick Finch to reach out to our Governor Rick Scott and exercise our 1st amendment rights to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government of the State of Florida for a redress of grievances. When Nick Finch went to court at the end of September they brought in a retired Judge for the case, and both the Judge and the Prosecuting Attorney agreed that the Sheriff had the right to white out the log; that Sheriffs have been doing it for years! They are still prosecuting him. Try to understand that one.
So, we are going to ask the Governor to reinstate Sheriff Nick Finch and do the right thing and stand by his Oath of Office and his Sworn Oath to the Constitution; it’s that simple. Nick Finch's Trial starts on October 28th, I believe, and we are in full support of him. We will be at the trial to show our presence there. We ask all Patriots that believe in what is right to stand with us on this day, in this time of trial, to make sure they don't take this sheriff down, this needs to be an example for the rest of the sheriffs in the State of Florida that we are here to stand with you if you uphold the Law of the Land and your Oath to the Constitution. The sheriffs are the only ones that can stand county by county, state by state, and protect us from the Federal Government. We need to stand in front of our Sheriffs, not behind them, and say we’ve got your Back!
Beyond the Oath Keepers, Sheriff Finch’s cause has attracted support from many other high profile organizations and names. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie, radio host Burnie Thompson, as well as Sheriffs from numerous Florida counties.