A family judge was reprimanded by Court of Appeal judges twice in two days and told he should be ‘embarrassed’ by the way he handled a case, it has emerged.
According to a panel of appeal court judges, His Honour Judge Dodds (pictured) was responsible for ‘unrestrained and immoderate language that had to be deplored’ in his handling of a child’s application for a DNA test to establish her real father.
An oral judgment given by Lords Justice Aikens, Black and King, and reproduced on Lawtel, recorded that the judge’s language in speaking to the child constituted a ‘serious procedural irregularity’.
The Judicial Office has confirmed that the judge involved was Dodds, but that no investigation is taking place into his conduct as no complaints have been made.
Dodds’ decision to impose a care order for three children was last month overturned after the Court of Appeal ruled it was ‘fundamentally unprincipled and unfair’.
Just a day earlier, in A (Children, 2015), the appeal court allowed an appeal by a 13-year-old girl against the dismissal of her application for a declaration of parentage.
Care orders had already been made by consent in respect of the child and her four siblings, and she applied for the DNA test after telling her guardian that she did not believe her father was her biological father.
Dodds reportedly told the child's solicitor they ‘might want to put a crash helmet on’ for his decision.
Despite the Legal Aid Agency agreeing to pay for the test, the judge said the child could pay if she wanted to, and that he was half-minded to make an order to that effect.
The reported appeal court judgment said: ‘[Dodds] asked that if the child had told her legal representatives that the moon was made of green cheese, whether they would they have answered “yes, sir; yes, sir; three bags full”.’
It continued: ‘He went on to state that the lunatics had truly taken over the asylum, and that just because the lunatics had said that they wanted something did not mean that they should be spoon-fed.’
Dodds was ‘bitterly resentful’ at how much of his Saturday he had spent reading material that he described as ‘codswallop’ and indicated he was minded to make a costs order against the child's solicitor.
The appeal court ruling stated that Dodds had not allowed proper submissions and his premature threat of costs indicated a ‘closed mind’ to the application.
The ruling went on: ‘It was to be hoped that the judge would read the transcript of the hearing and be embarrassed. Appointment as a judge was not a licence to be gratuitously rude to those appearing before him.’