Jury seated for trial of sheriff suspended by Scott
In a case that has drawn heavy attention from gun-rights supporters, a jury was seated Monday in a rural North Florida county as Gov. Rick Scott continues to receive requests to reinstate a suspended sheriff accused of destroying public jail records.
While prosecutors believe the trial of suspended Sheriff Nick Finch can be concluded in a single day, Circuit Judge William Gary has blocked out three days — Tuesday through Thursday — for the testimony and arguments.
Finch, 51, faces a felony charge of official misconduct and a misdemeanor charge of falsifying public records. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found that Finch on March 8 released a local man who had been arrested for carrying a concealed firearm, a third-degree felony, and altered or destroyed corresponding documents.
Finch declined to comment Monday but said he would "have plenty to talk about" when the trial was completed.
Scott suspended Finch on June 4 and later named an interim sheriff.
Finch's arrest continues to draw criticism for Scott as recent emails to the governor imply the suspension could hurt his re-election and the image of the Republican Party.
The suspended sheriff's defenders argue that Finch was standing up for the Second Amendment in releasing the man arrested on the concealed-firearm charge and that the case isn't about making it appear as though an arrest never occurred.
Finch told the investigating officer from the FDLE that he acted because he "believed in Second Amendment rights."