Judicial authorities have reprimanded a judge rebuked by the Court of Appeal for being ‘gratuitously rude’ during a case.
The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) said His Honour Judge Robert Stephen Dodds’ behaviour amounted to ‘serious misconduct’ in relation to three cases. A similar charge about a fourth case was dropped.
The family court circuit judge was criticised by the Court of Appeal in January for his conduct and case management. A law firm involved in representing a litigant made an official complaint.
The JCIO said the lord chancellor and lord chief justice had considered the matter and decided to issue Dodds (pictured) a reprimand.
In one of the cases referred to in the notice, Re S-W, the appeal court said all parties involved in a case order had ‘crumbled before Dodds’ caustically expressed views’, with the judge at one stage referring to the mother as looking ‘upset and bewildered’.
Lord Justice Lewison said Dodds had ‘apparently made up his mind’ before hearing argument or evidence and approached the case with a ‘closed mind’.
In RE A (Children), reported on Lawtel, 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 a 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.
Lord Justice Aikens said appointment as a judge was not a ‘licence for intemperate language or for being gratuitously rude’.
North-west firm QualitySolicitors Jackson Canter, which was involved in one of the cases, said it had formally asked the JCIO to investigate.