Everyone thinks they’re smarter than a judge.

People rail against judges daily for what they believe are boneheaded decisions and they’re almost always wrong. Judges have to consider things — fairness, rehabilitation — that the pundits at the bar have the luxury of ignoring.

So it is with trepidation that I shake my head at how the Howard Hyde fatal inquiry has fallen into ridiculousness because of Judge Anne Derrick.

The inquiry should have been a great leap forward for our court system. The whole thing is being webcast live and archived, making it perhaps the first truly “public” inquiry in Nova Scotia. Bravo.

But things got terribly muddled Monday when Derrick ruled that raw video footage of Hyde’s final hours before his death — including shots of him being Tasered — could not be uploaded to the Internet.

Derrick worried it would invade the privacy of unrelated people caught on tape and would make the video vulnerable to mischievous tampering by what Derrick called “the infinity of the Internet.”

But here’s the thing. The video will be played in court. The court will be webcast. So the video will still be online, it will just be a webcam shot of a TV instead of a clearer image.

Derrick worried about “de-contextualizing” the evidence by uploading the video alone. By this logic we aren’t bright enough to understand the video of Robert Dziekanski being Tasered in Vancouver unless it’s alongside the police explaining their version of what happened.

As for privacy issues, uh, the video is online either way.

I’m also not sure what malevolent video tampering she expected. Perhaps she feared a mash-up of Hyde fighting the Star Wars Kid being uploaded to YouTube.

“She doesn’t know the difference between uploading and downloading,” marvelled one reporter (This is true; Derrick repeatedly referenced “downloading to the Internet”).

It seems trivial, but it has caused major problems. Friday, a CBC lawyer will have to argue for the right to broadcast footage of Hyde being Tasered on TV.

Derrick so far has been hesitant to allow this because it might conflict with her earlier ruling.

So, to recap — you might be able to watch a webcam video of a TV screen playing Hyde being Tasered, but not see it via the media or a direct copy of the video itself.

This should have been a great leap forward. Instead, it just shows how behind the times our court system is.

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