Federal Judge Who Took Leave For Alcoholism Says it Never Affected Cases

A federal judge in Louisiana who took medical leave for treatment of severe alcoholism said Friday there are no grounds to challenge cases resolved in her court.

“I’m not going to downplay the alcohol problem,” U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi said in interview with KPLC-TV (http://bit.ly/2oHONrQ ) and The American Press of Lake Charles (http://bit.ly/2nNsgdU ).

But, she added, proceedings were halted “if there ever was an indication” that she was unable to handle her duties due to alcohol.

“There have been thousands and thousands of cases that I have handled where that was never even an issue,” Minaldi said.

“I’m sure some will be challenged. Anyone can file a lawsuit regardless of its merit. But, I don’t believe for a second that any of those cases, meritoriously, will be challenged.”

Minaldi’s unusual behavior on the bench preceded her mysterious removal from a string of cases. She was ordered to get treatment for alcoholism so severe that a colleague believes she cannot take care of herself, according to court records released Thursday.

She did not rule out a return to the bench someday, but said she is weighing her options.

“There is no disputing that I am in a battle with alcohol,” Minaldi, 58, said. “So far, I’m winning that battle, and I intend to win it for the rest of my life.”

She also said she would fight action by U.S. Magistrate Kathleen Kay, a colleague and friend, challenging her ability to handle her own affairs.

Kay said in court documents that Minaldi was diagnosed with “severe Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome,” a degenerative brain disorder linked to alcohol abuse.

Documents show she has moved into an assisted living facility specializing in “memory care.”

The mandate for Minaldi to complete at least 90 days of substance abuse treatment came from the chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Source: Associated Press