algorithmic modeling for Rhino
The error means that a character of the dbf table can't be read by python. Python works with ASCII characters and if a character of the dbf is non-ASCII, the component will throw an error. This is why some shp files work and some don't.
I will fix the error ASAP and upload some of the new components we've been working on. The new finches component doesn't have any python library dependencies. This means that you don't have to copy and paste any script libraries and reference them in GH (which I think confuses a lot of people).
Also, would you send me the shp files you were trying to import? I'll debug with them. You can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.