Really important family court appeal, successfully brought against a deputy district judge's ruling, and highlighting his many and awful mistakes in deciding not to make findings of domestic abuse.…
The appeal was brought by a mother with @DrProudman acting as counsel. Original advice from a silk had been 'don't bother trying.'
A notable sentence from the start of this appeal judgment by HHJ Ahmed: "In this case there was a constellation of failures in the judge's consideration of the domestic abuse issue, including whether certain conduct constituted abuse."
And read a bit further, and you see: "In this case, fundamental principles were not implemented and principles, and outdated attitudes which have no place in the Family Court, were imported."
Pretty bloody horrifyingly, HHJ Ahmed says: "In particular, he failed to identify and apply the correct definition of domestic abuse." So much for the President's repeated assurances about family judges understanding and being trained in domestic abuse.
I'll go on: "The first ground of appeal is that the judge was wrong to apply criminal principles in his consideration of alleged physical abuse of the mother....
...."The judge approached this case on the basis of a criminal definition of what he described as a ‘count’ of assault. The word ‘count’ comes from the description of charges on the indictment in the Crown Court. It is not a word which is used in the Family Court...
" unless referring to an indictment from criminal proceedings."
...."it appears that the judge imposed a criminal standard of proof upon the mother, despite saying that he was applying the standard of the balance of probabilities."
Moving on. "The judge referred to and relied upon what he considered to be the absence of violence during the relationship. He wrongly gave this substantial significance when assessing the evidence in respect of the facts that he had to decide."
Then the judge said that the abuse was 'situational' but didn't define what he meant by that. Instead, he said that because the mother had gone on holiday with the father (to help support contact), she must have been comfortable being in his presence.
But as HHJ Ahmed points out (I mean this is good, but it should not need qualifications and intellegence to work this out) "The fact of their going on holiday together could not assist him on whether there was domestic abuse once they were on holiday...."
"The mother's decision to go on holiday with the father can have nothing at all to do with whether domestic abuse took place whilst on that holiday. The judge’s reasoning process was therefore flawed."
Next up. Special measures. Those things that are put in place to enable vulnerable witnesses to give their best evidence. Seriously. Why are we still talking about this? Well... this is why:
"He failed to provide special measures to ensure that she was able to give her best evidence. There would have been no prejudice to the father from any such measures."
And yes.. I bet you're ahead of me, aren't you... well, maybe this will come as a surprise to a few people still: the judge allowed the woman's alleged abuser to cross examine her, himself. And yes, this only happened LAST YEAR.
"The mother cried during the father’s cross examination of her. There was no screen put in place. No special measures were considered. There was no ground rules hearing." I mean, what is WRONG with judges who do this? It is an outrage. It can and does scar people.
This woman first appeared in front of magistrates. They reduced the number of allegations of domestic abuse she was allowed to try to prove to just one. Yes. One. She had to appeal. That is stressful and upsetting. Her appeal was allowed. She was then permitted to enter four.
As HHJ Ahmed points out (showing that some of the judiciary *do* understand DA, so thank god for him): "the restriction made it difficult for the mother to present a case properly on the basis of a pattern of behaviour over a period of time....
"Nuanced appreciation of the mother’s allegations was lost."
This is not the end of it. This mother will have to go to court *again* to try to prove her allegations. At judge o at least Tier 3 level will have to hear it - I think that is circuit judge level or above. She is not legally aided. She has already spent a fortune.
And that is despite her legal representatives reducing their fees for this appeal. The public purse will have to bear the costs of HHJ Ahmed's time, and the next judge's time. Court time that is needed to fairly decide other cases has been and will be lost.
I say this to show that the costs of a judge doing their job so very poorly is not only to the parties involved, including the child. It costs all of us. And only the very bravest, the most resilient, and/or those with access to funds, can seek to challenge them.

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More from @louisetickle

7 Jun
You might remember that a couple of months ago, I started a crowdfunder to get the book by @JMoncktonSmith "In Control - Dangerous Relationships and How They End in Murder" out to all 381 Community Safety Partnerships in the country. CSPs commission Domestic Homicide Reviews...
Within not very much time at all, £2,800 odd had been generously donated by lots of people, some of whom, I learned through messages we exchanged, had been bereaved as a result of domestic homicides.
So the crowdfunder was going really well. And then the book's publisher, @BloomsburyBooks, landed a bombshell. They were going to send out all 381 books for free. Postage and packing. The lot.
Read 9 tweets
27 Apr
Morning all. Am getting ready to live tweet the @HfdsCouncil Extraordinary General Meeting, starting at 10am, following the judgment of Mr Justice Keehan in a case where the council has apologised for comprehensively failing a family... #herefordEGM
..., and, amongst other appalling social work/management failures, a child's life support was withdrawn thanks to wrong legal advice + a DCS who chose to exercise shared parental resp to give permission for the child to die before her mother could reach the hospital #herefordEGM
Current set up - three screens needed! #herefordEGM
Read 173 tweets
26 Apr
Gearing up to livetweet the Herefordshire Extraordinary General Meeting at 10am tomorrow, which will discuss the *fourth* excoriating judgment by Mr Justice Keehan in three years, re its latest children's social work catastrophe - and that is not too strong a word #herefordEGM 1/
Anyone interested in attending, it's a remote EGM being livestreamed here: #herefordEGM 2/
Here is the latest judgment for anyone who has an hour and a very strong stomach:… #herefordEGM 3/
Read 16 tweets
16 Apr
Absolutely massive uplift in cases reported by Cafcass in its monthly figures for March 2021 - headlines: 30.7% or 1,472 more cases than March 2020. Highest ever number for March on record.
Comparing the quarter ending March 2020 with this year, there are (for 2021) fewer public law, or care cases, and more private law cases (parental separation with child dispute).
Figures are: An increase in total case demand (3.9% / 612 cases);
• A reduction in new public law cases (5.4% / 233 cases);
• An increase in new private law cases (7.5% / 845 cases).
Read 6 tweets
14 Apr
I've just launched the 'Prevent Domestic Homicides crowdfunder to get @JMoncktonSmith's vitally important book 'In Control - Dangerous Relationships And How They End In Murder' to all 342 Community Safety Partnerships across the UK.
With huge thanks to @BloomsburyBooks for heavily discounting the book and covering postage/packing. So good of them. Would be v grateful for a RT @caitlinmoran @RachelRileyRR @basialcummings @Dontlookback198 @LDNVictimsComm @VeraBaird @nicolejacobsST
Thanks to @Julie_Aunger1, who told us about her daughter Katie Wilding who died in 2016, in the flat of her abusive ex partner - Julie's 4-year battle to get her local Community Safety Partnership to agree to do a Domestic Homicide Review inspired this crowdfunder.
Read 4 tweets
12 Apr
Coming back on this morning because I’m still feeling raging, upset and shaky about something that happened to me yesterday when I went on a run.
15 or so minutes into the run, so just about past the pain barrier and when it’s starting to feel tolerable, a guy I later see is wearing a yellow dayglo jacket cycles up behind me. “Coming through” he calls. I move to the left.
As he cycles past he makes what to him I imagine sounds like a complimentary comment on my “figure”.
Read 9 tweets

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