Internet news boycotts court hearing for woman who previously drove SUV with kids inside into Daytona surf

Headline Surfer® barred from shooting video inside courtroom because Chief Judge Terence Perkins is allowing only 1 still camera & 1 TV video camera, per Florida DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The only media outlet that won a journalism award for its coverage of Ebony Wilerson's prior episode of intentionally driving her SUV into the Daytona surf last year in an attempty to drowmn her kids is purpodely skipping an 11 a.m. competency hearing for the South Carolina woman on an unrelated incident.

Headline Surfer® is boycotting the 11 a.m. hearing in Circuit Judhe Leah Case's courtroom at the Justice Center, 251 N. Ridgewood Ave., because it is not allowed to shoot video of the proceedings. When informed in writing that the internet news outlet feels its First Amendment rights to report the news is being infringed upon by archaic rules, a spokeswoman for Chief Judge Terence Perkins responded the request to shoot video was not going to be allowed.

"The First Amendment guarantees you the right to attend the hearing, to witness all public proceedings and to report the information as you see fit," Ludmilla Lelis, court communications officer for the 7th Judicial Circuit of Florida wrote in an 8:27 a.m. response to Headline Surfer®. "You know you are always welcome to come and attend."

As an alternative, Headline Surfer® asked if it5 could be allowed in to to take the slot of a radio pool provider, but that request was denied as well.

"The Florida Rules of Judicial Administration are clear that the radio pool is 1 audio system for radio broadcast purpose," Lelis said, citing Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.450(b)(3). "You do not qualify for that spot."

Lelis continued, "Those rules, as well as the administrative order by the Chief Judge, also make it clear that the use of cameras in courtroom is not guaranteed but is allowed. There is a difference to that. Under our rules for high-profile cases, we are to have one TV camera, one still camera. Those are not my rules and the Chief Judge has made it clear to me that the pool camera rule is to be enforced."

Lelis added, "That said, if you come to court, I will talk with the pool TV camera person to see what arrangements can be made to accommodate your needs. I would like to find a way to get you that video."

The only way Headline Surfer® vcould access the video from the TV pool ptovivder would be if the raw video were uploaded to YouTube with a resulting embedded code to access it.

Headline Surefer® has repeatedly asserted the rules for cameras in the courtroom are archaic and exclusionary because there is no direct access of documenting what is occurring in the courtroom, including the all-important sights and sounds -- the capturing of human drama.



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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.