Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background
Slide background

Behaviour of family judge meant hearing amounted to serious procedural irregularity, High Court judge finds

A district judge who was found “shaking with rage” during a case on a child’s care plan has had her ruling overturned on grounds of serious procedural irregularity.

In C (A Child) (Judicial Conduct) [2019] EWFC B53 HHJ Mark Rogers, sitting in the Family Court in Nottingham, criticised District Judge Mian for her conduct during the hearing.

The case concerned child M who the judge had ruled could not be placed with her maternal grandparents as her older brother N - then in residential care - was under his care plan due at some point to return to them and his behavioural problems could jeopardise M’s safety.

Judge Rogers noted that the matter had since been resolved with N continuing in residential care and M living with the grandparents.

But he granted the appeal on the grounds that while Judge Mian’s legal exposition, “could not possibly support an arguable case that there was a misdirection”, her behaviour could.

Birmingham City Council, one of the local authorities involved in the case, took a neutral position on Judge Mian’s conduct.

Judge Rogers commented: “I expressed mild surprise at that stance but, upon reflection, having heard [the barrister] explain the sensitivities and importance of the working relationship between [the council] and the court, I understand why it does not wish to associate itself proactively with the more severe criticisms of the judge's conduct of the case.”

He said transcripts showed Judge Mian “pointed out repeatedly the substance of N's care plan and refused to investigate whether it might not be implemented. She regarded that as outside the scope of the enquiry and an issue over which she had no jurisdiction or control.”

Judge Rogers said: “Of much more worrying effect are the criticisms of the judge's demeanour.”

These included in the grounds of appeal her "blasphemous words, shouting, storming out of court and general intemperate behaviour".

Judge Rogers said the appeal also mentioned Judge Mian using sarcasm, “shaking with rage” and turning her chair away from the court and sitting with her back to everyone for several seconds, mimicking the advocate's words and to intimidating the guardian.

He said he listened to the recording of the hearing “and heard, with dismay, the anger and tension in the judge's voice. I also heard her banging her desk”.

Judge Rogers said he was sure Judge Mian had sought to progress a difficult case and felt family members had not grasped the point about N’s care plan.

“Yet, by the insistence of her position and her apparent refusal to listen to the contrary arguments before making a reasoned judgment, she not only derailed the substance of the hearing but created an atmosphere where completing a fair hearing became impossible,” he found.

“She seems to have alienated even those whom she sought to praise and encourage…I am quite satisfied that the Judge on this occasion crossed the line and that the hearing amounted to a serious procedural irregularity.”

Mark Smulian

Slide background