FINCH v. STATE

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Court of Appeals of Georgia.

FINCH v. The STATE.

No. A13A1922.

Decided: March 12, 2014

Matthew Karl Hube, for Appellant. Joseph Barclay Black, Richard Ashley Mallard, for Appellee.

Following a jury trial, John Thomas Finch appeals from his conviction of 25 counts of false swearing,1 contending that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and an appellant no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. This Court determines whether the evidence is sufficient under the standard of Jackson v. Virginia,2 and does not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility. Any conflicts or inconsistencies in the evidence are for the jury to resolve. As long as there is some competent evidence, even though contradicted, to support each fact necessary to make out the State's case, we must uphold the jury's verdict.3

So viewed, the evidence shows that Finch owned or developed certain parcels of real property that he sold to home buyers. As part of the closing documents he executed for each property, Finch signed notarized affidavits stating that the materials used on the lots had been paid for and there were no outstanding debts for the construction. As explained by various trial witnesses from building material suppliers, numerous accounts for materials used in building the properties had not been paid at closing.

Based on the false affidavits, Finch was charged with 25 counts of false swearing. A jury trial ensued, and Finch was found guilty on all counts. Following the denial of his motion for new trial, Finch now appeals.

1. Finch argues that the evidence was insufficient to support a guilty verdict because nobody at the closing law firm swore him in by raising his right hand to take an oath, and because the notary arguably did not personally witness his signature.4 Based on this, he argues that there was no lawful oath violated by his false statements. But this ignores the plain language of the false swearing statute, OCGA § 16–10–71(a): “A person to whom a lawful oath or affirmation has been administered or who executes a document knowing that it purports to be an acknowledgment of a lawful oath or affirmation commits the offense of false swearing when, in any matter or thing other than a judicial proceeding, he knowingly and willfully makes a false statement.” Thus, the offense of false swearing is defined to include signing documents that purport to be an acknowledgment of a lawful oath,

regardless of whether an oath had actually been administered by an official. Under this broad[ ] definition, one who executed a document with knowledge that his mere execution would “purport” to be or would evince his “acknowledgment” that the statements contained therein were being made under lawful oath or affirmation could be held accountable for false swearing.5

Finch concedes that the affidavits in question state that he was “duly sworn,” and “on oath deposes and says” the averments in the affidavits. Thus, Finch's affidavits contained language purporting to be an acknowledgment of an oath or affirmation, and the evidence supported a finding of guilt as to false swearing.6

2. Finch also argues that certain evidence of his unpaid accounts violated the best evidence rule under former OCGA § 24–3–14.7 But at trial, after he voiced his objection to a single witness's testimony, the trial court allowed counsel to confer and resolve any questions about the evidence being offered by the witness. After the conference, the witness continued with his testimony, including the formerly challenged testimony, without objection from Finch. Therefore, this issue has not been preserved for appeal.8

Judgment affirmed.

DOYLE, Presiding Judge.

McFADDEN and BOGGS, JJ., concur.

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