Judge Judith Hughes has been investigated for condescending behaviour during a family law hearing in which she allowed her bad temper to get the better of her by banging her head on a desk after a litigant in person appeared before her in court.
Lord Chancellor David Gauke and Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett acting on behalf of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) found that Hughes’ behaviour was “sarcastic and condescending”, and “failed to demonstrate the standards expected of a judicial office holder”.
Very little information about the context of the complaint is offered by the JCIO though it seems as if the complaint may have been made by the litigant in person, who is likely to have been a parent. Litigants in person are typically members of the public who cannot afford to pay for legal fees, and find they have to represent themselves in court through no fault of their own.
Hughes was issued with ‘formal advice’, and will continue to sit as a family court judge.
This is not the first time Hughes’ temper has been documented. The Telegraph reports an incident from 2017 when the judge also allowed herself to get angry about matters that came before her.
We are encouraged to see parents making use of complaints bodies who appear to be fair and balanced. Perhaps more complaints where warranted might help to put an end to judicial bullying of parents and children in the family court.