Judge Minaldi Empowering Women

U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Minaldi speaks during the Empowering Women luncheon in Sulphur in 2013. Minaldi’s retirement, effective July 31, leaves the Lake Charles division without a district judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Minaldi has retired several months after taking medical leave for treatment of severe alcoholism, a court official said Wednesday.

Tony Moore, clerk of court for the Western District of Louisiana, said Minaldi’s “disability retirement went into effect on Monday.”

Minaldi, who had served as a federal judge since 2003, was removed from more than two dozen cases after a trial she presided over last year ended abruptly. She had been off the bench since December for “medical reasons.”

A petition was filed in state district court in March seeking to have Minaldi declared mentally incapacitated and to appoint someone to manage her affairs. Local attorney Thomas Lorenzi filed the case on behalf of Kathleen Kay, a longtime friend of Minaldi’s who worked under her as U.S. magistrate judge.

Records of that proceeding were sealed, but the American Press reached an agreement with attorneys to have part of it unsealed.

Among the documents was a patient discharge summary from 12 Keys Rehab Center in Florida, where Minaldi spent time after being referred by U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart. She was discharged on Feb. 1. Stewart had mandated Minaldi complete at least 90 days of treatment “due to the severity of (her) alcoholism and legal consequences she had attained.”

The rehab center noted that Minaldi had “cognitive impairment requiring assisted living facility admissions” and was “unable to safely take care of her personal needs, financial matters or her property matters.”

They recommended that a full interdiction — giving control of her affairs to someone else — be done on her behalf after diagnosing her with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The syndrome is a combination of Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis.

Shortly after that, Glen Vamvoras, Minaldi’s attorney, said Minaldi retained “complete control over her activities — business and personal.”

A federal judge is appointed for life but can leave the bench by resignation, retirement or through impeachment by Congress. The current compensation for federal judges is $205,100 a year.

Minaldi will draw her full salary for life since she retired on disability and was a federal judge at the time.

Moore said Minaldi’s retirement “leaves the Lake Charles division without a district judge.”