They won’t back down

It was a rough week for one-time SN&R cover boy Richard Finley.

The 73-year-old bookseller, owner of America’s Legal Bookstore on J Street, has led a fascinating, and at times, scary life. He was once an actor, then a filmmaker, then an accomplished businessman, with a growing chain of legal bookstores.

About 12 years ago, Finley fell in with the Montana Freeman. His attempts to put some Freemen philosophy into action—including trying to deposit a $6 million check given to him by Freemen leader LeRoy Schweitzer—eventually led him to a stint in federal prison. (For the whole convoluted story, see “The big payback,” SN&R Feature, February 18.)

After two years in the Lompoc Federal Correction Complex, Finley got his conviction reversed by an appeals court judge. That court decided Finley had not gotten any financial gain and that he had not believed he was breaking the law. He then began his quixotic effort to sue the government for wrongfully imprisoning him, and for the personal and financial woes that followed. To do that, he had to win a piece of paper seldom seen in U.S. judicial system, a bona fide “certificate of innocence.”

Richard Finley.

But last week, federal court Judge Lowell Jensen rejected Finley’s claim for such a certificate, saying that Finley has failed to prove that his own actions and his negligence didn’t cause his prosecution.

In his findings, Jensen characterized Finley as something of an enigma. “Trying to discover an explanation for Finley’s conduct in this, trying to ascertain the truth as to his state of mind … has proved to be a difficult and elusive quest.”

No more elusive than Finley’s quest—he’s already filed another appeal.

Not that he needs the stress. Like a lot of local businesses, Finley’s has been buffeted by the bad economy. But there’s a bigger challenge. When Bites spoke with Finley, he was getting ready to go in for open-heart surgery early this week. Bites asked Finley why he didn’t just give up, focus on his business, his family and his health.

“I’m not giving up. In the worst way, I wish I could, because my life is just crappy right now. If I didn’t believe, I couldn’t keep doing this,” Finley explained.

Like Judge Jensen, Bites finds some of the choices Finley has made to be something of a puzzle. On the other hand, you’ve got to hand it to the man, Finley is nothing if not passionate. And one of the nicest people you’re likely to meet. Take care of yourself, Richard, some of us like having you around.

Speaking of payback: Somewhere else in this news section, you’ll find a quote or two from Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad. Bites had him on the phone anyway, and asked “So, what else is going on in beautiful Yolo County?”

“You know, it’s all re-entry center, all the time right now.”

“Re-what?” Bites asked. “Oh, you mean the mini-prison.”

“Oh, man, I hate to hear that,” Rexroad moaned, he prefers to call the 500 inmate, low-security facility proposed for the tiny town of Dunnigan a “re-entry center.” Rexroad is a supporter, and “People are so mad at me right now.”

One of the maddest is a man named Jack Rexroad. That would be Matt’s 72-year-old father, who lives next door to the proposed mini-pr—er, center—in Zamora.

In fact, Rexroad senior is going door to door with petitions trying to stop his son’s harebrained scheme. Worse, “He’s decided not to come to my son’s birthday party,” said the supervisor. See, that’s hardball.