Perry (WTFF) – A Floridian exercising his right to film governmental officers engaged in public duties was chased out of a courthouse by the sheriff and his deputy.
“Are you filmin’ raht now?” asked Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputy Earl Padgett when the Floridian walked into the Taylor County Courthouse.
(Video below has been edited for length)
“Yeah,” he replied, while streaming live to his YouTube channel “Poor dirt farmer.”
“No sir, not in here you’re not,” drawled the deputy as he laboriously made his way towards the Floridian.
The deputy told him to leave.
“Is there a law that I’m breaking?” he asked.
They went back and forth for a bit in the video.
“I’m giving you a lawful order to exit the building,” demanded Deputy Earl Padgett. “You have a blessed day.”
“Alright, you too… you just violated my rights…” declared the Floridian, “as an American to walk in a public lobby and to film in a public lobby.”
“You’re not gonna film in this courthouse, not unless it’s approved,” replied the deputy.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”
Courts have ruled that “Recording governmental officers engaged in public duties is a form of speech through which private individuals may gather and disseminate information of public concern, including the conduct of law enforcement officers.” Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78, 82 (1st Cir. 2011). Photographers and videographers are only limited by “reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions,” such as if they’re knowingly trespassing or interfering with a dangerous suspect.
In 2010, a federal judge signed a settlement in which the federal government agreed that no federal statutes or regulations bar photography of federal courthouses from publicly accessible property. (Musumeci v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
It’s safe to say to say that Taylor County failed the First Amendment “audit,” as “Poor dirt farmer” was forced to leave simply because he was filming the public interior of a courthouse.
“I don’t understand the law that I’m breaking,” he said while standing outside of the entrance.
“Sir, step outside,” demanded Deputy Earl Padgett as he held the door open.
“I’m outside, I’m just trying to ask what the law is I’m breaking.”
Sheriff Wayne Padgett suddenly appeared with a pointed finger and yelled:
“Gitcho ass on outcheah! When he tell you to go, you git! The Hell you think you are?”
The Floridian replied, “I’m just an innocent American citizen.”
“When that deputy tell you something, you do it!” barked the sheriff.
The pair of Padgetts chased him off and went back inside while the Floridian tried pleading with a third deputy. Eventually that deputy walked back inside and the Floridian was left asking seemingly-unconcerned citizens what they thought about all of this.
See the original, full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCFR7IXpz8Q
Update: we corrected the title of Sheriff Wayne Padgett, he’s actually the sheriff of Taylor County, not just a deputy as we incorrectly stated before. The other Padgett is a deputy though. It’s a little confusing, sorry for the mistake.