A couple involved in contentious litigation sent a birthday card to the home address of the family judge hearing their case, telling her to 'keep up the good work stealing for profit', it has emerged. The incident was one of five highlighted in a High Court judgment handed down last month.
The man and woman are described in the judgment as domestic partners involved in 'long and contentious' litigation in the family courts which concerned the adoption of children.
They were convicted of harassment in July 2018. Their appeal against conviction was dismissed by a Crown court three months later and each was sentenced to 16 week' imprisonment. The Crown court sought the High Court's opinion on whether it had erred in its determinations.
In the first incident, the day before a court hearing in which the appellants were involved, two emails were sent to the judge's personal email address with her married name, which was different to her name as a judge.
In the second incident, on their way into court and while they were being searched by security staff, the appellants said they knew the judge's home address.
In the third incident, comments made in court referred to the judge's family. As they left the court, the man wished the judge a happy birthday. The High Court says it was the judge's birthday that day.
In the fourth incident, the day after her birthday, the judge received a birthday card at her home.
In the fifth incident, a live video was uploaded on to the man's Facebook account. Lord Justice Simon, delivering the High Court judgment, said it was 'unnecessary to set out the highly derogatory statements about the judge' but it was mentioned in the video that the judge had locked her Facebook account down, but her husband's was still open.
Simon LJ said the Crown court was entitled to take into account that the couple's conduct was directed against a judge performing an important public duty.
He said: 'The appellants had been parties to proceedings before the judge for about two years. The proceedings had concerned the adoption of children and were in their nature sensitive. The appellants intended to show the judge that they had extensive knowledge about parts of her life which were separate from her work as a judge. Their conduct was designed to harass and intimidate her in relation to her public duty to the prejudice of the proper administration of justice.'
Although the case focused on the public duty discharged by a judge, Davis LJ said 'it might have been any other official carrying out a public duty, or indeed, any other citizen who is entitled to be protected from harassment by the operation of the criminal law'.