E. Price-50 State security

E. Price of 50 State security, who not only believes it is illegal to bring a camera into the courthouse, but illegal to photograph him. Photo by Taylor Hardy

PINAC crew member Taylor Hardy entered a Miami courthouse Monday to attend a traffic hearing with his camera in his bag, only to be told by security guards that he would have to leave the camera with them.

Not surprisingly, these guards were from 50 State, the same company that is paid millions of dollars a year to guard the Metrorail while violating the rights of photographers. 

There is no law or policy that forbids photography on the Metrorail and there is no law or policy that forbids bringing cameras into the Richard E. Gernstein Justice Building.

But that means nothing to security guards who are free to create their own laws.

I’ve entered that courthouse plenty of times with cameras as I rarely go anywhere without a camera, including a couple of times where I walked in suitcase filled with camera gear along with a tripod, including that time I had my friend video record my trial. I’ve also have brought cameras into the Dade County Courthouse, which is where civil cases are heard, including that time where I tried to file a lawsuit and they wouldn’t let me.

The only restrictions to photography is within the courtrooms and even then, you will be allowed to record if you are doing it for the media under certain guidelines.

Florida’s laws on cameras in the courtrooms are some of the most liberal in the country. The policies at federal courthouses are completely different, however, and they’ve been known to even restrict cell phones.

But the security guard named E. Civil insisted there was some policy at the county courthouse, it’s always some policy with these people, even though he was unable to provide that policy.

Hardy ended up leaving his camera at the checkpoint because he did not want to miss his hearing, which would have resulted in a bench warrant for his arrest.

And when he returned to retrieve his camera, he asked for the security guard’s name, but the guard refused to provide it, so Hardy snapped a photo with his cell phone.

That prompted the guard to press a security button that resulted in seven Miami-Dade police officers surrounding him.

Miami-Dade Sgt. Alvarez acknowledged that Hardy had not broken any law by taking his picture, but then tried to strong-arm him into deleting the photo.

“I don’t feel comfortable with you having a picture of a security person that’s in charge of security that’s in charge of my building,” Alvarez said.

Hardy protested for a few minutes, but Alvarez wasn’t going to let it go, so Hardy deleted a photo.

But what the cop didn’t realize was that Hardy had taken more than one photo, so now we all get to see the photo that stirred so much trouble.

And we get to hear the exchange in the video below.