Judge’s ruling on little girl overturned after intemperate behaviour ‘crossed the line’

A decision by a family court judge asked to consider the future of a little girl has been overturned after a lawyer complained about her “intemperate” behaviour at a private hearing.

Barrister Naomi Hobbs, who was instructed by a guardian appointed to represent the interests of the child, mounted an appeal on the grounds that District Judge Najma Mian’s conduct had been “improper”.

Ms Hobbs complained about District Judge Mian using “blasphemous words”, “shouting”, “storming out of court”, being sarcastic and “shaking with rage”.

A more senior judge has upheld the appeal.

Judge Mark Rogers concluded that District Judge Mian, who is in her early 50s and based in Birmingham, had “crossed the line”.

He said the hearing District Judge Mian had overseen “amounted to a serious procedural irregularity”.

Detail of the case, which also involved Birmingham City Council (pictured) social services staff, emerged in Judge Rogers’ written appeal judgment, which has been published online.

Judge Rogers, who heard the appeal at a recent family court hearing in Nottingham, indicated that the girl was a toddler but he said she could not be identified in media reports of the litigation.

He said District Judge Mian had decided that the girl should be placed for adoption.

Both the guardian appointed by a judge to represent the interests of the girl, and the girl’s mother, had appealed.

“In her grounds of appeal, Ms Hobbs refers expressly to the judge’s improper conduct as being exemplified by ‘blasphemous words, shouting, storming out of court and general intemperate behaviour’,” said Judge Rogers in his appeal ruling.

“She also referred to sarcasm, the judge shaking with rage, the judge turning her chair away from the court and sitting with her back to everyone for several seconds, mimicking the advocate’s words and intimidating the guardian.”

Judge Rogers added: “In short, looking at the whole picture, I am quite satisfied that the judge on this occasion crossed the line and that the hearing amounted to a serious procedural irregularity.”

He said he had decided to deliver “a full judgment” and identify District Judge Mian.

Judge Rogers said: “I have no wish to embarrass or discomfort the judge, but I am convinced that the public interest in the Family Court being transparent and open to scrutiny is the decisive factor.”

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