Patricia Head Minaldi

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Patricia Head Minaldi
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
Assumed office
July 31, 2017
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
In office
May 9, 2003 – July 31, 2017
Appointed byGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byJames T. Trimble Jr.
Succeeded byvacant
Personal details
Born1959 (age 58–59)
Somerville, Massachusetts
EducationWesleyan University (B.A.)
Tulane University Law School (J.D.)

Patricia Head Minaldi (born 1959) is an inactive Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. She assumed inactive senior status on July 31, 2017.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Somerville, Massachusetts, Minaldi graduated from Wesleyan University with her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980 and later from Tulane University School of Law with a Juris Doctor in 1983.

Legal career[edit]

Following law school graduation, Minaldi was an assistant district attorney of New Orleans from 1983 to 1986. She was an assistant district attorney of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana from 1986 to 1996. She was a judge on the 14th Judicial District Court, Louisiana from 1996 to 2003. Her issues with alcoholism were already common knowledge in the community by 1997.

Federal judicial career[edit]

Minaldi was nominated to the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana by President George W. Bush on January 15, 2003. The seat had been vacated by Judge James Trimble, who took senior status. Minaldi was confirmed by the Senate on May 6, 2003 on a Senate vote and received her commission on May 9, 2003. She assumed senior status on July 31, 2017, due to being an alcoholic.[1]

Notable cases[edit]

In February 2016, during voir dire in a criminal trial, Minaldi failed to determine if jurors were qualified citizens and failed to deliver any preliminary instructions.[2] At one point in the trial, Minaldi stopped the questioning of a witness discussing a computer application because she was ignorant of what a "drop-down menu" was.[2] After the public defender made a motion for curative measures, Minaldi ordered the prosecutor to deliver preliminary instructions to the jury, stopping to complain to the prosecutor, "I have no idea what’s going on here. Get your act together."[2] After the prosecutor and public defender jointly moved for a mistrial, the chief district judge removed Minaldi from the case and assigned it to Judge Donald Ellsworth Walter, who then declared a mistrial.[2]

DWI conviction[edit]

In 2014, Minaldi was arrested by Lake Charles, Louisiana police for having an open alcoholic beverage inside her vehicle. Following a police investigation, Minaldi was charged with first-offense driving while intoxicated (DWI).[3] Minaldi subsequently pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility in court; she received a deferred sentence and was fined $400, among other penalties.[4]

Indefinite medical leave[edit]

In January 2017, the Clerk of the Western District of Louisiana confirmed that Minaldi had surrendered her entire docket of cases and had taken medical leave. It is not known exactly which day she took leave. It is also known her alcoholism compelled her to take leave,[5] although the Chief Judge ordered her to undergo 90 days of substance abuse treatment.[6]


  1. ^ "APNewsBreak: Judge retires after leave for alcoholism care".
  2. ^ a b c d Cassens Weiss, Debra (6 December 2016). "Federal judge who questioned meaning of 'drop-down menu,' didn't instruct jurors is tossed from case". ABA Journal. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  3. ^ Federal judge charged with first-offense DWI, dash cam video released, KPLC (February 2014).
  4. ^ Federal judge pleads guilty to DWI in Lake Charles, Associated Press (March 3, 2014).
  5. ^ Federal judge who surrendered cases takes medical leave, Associated Press (January 26, 2017).
  6. ^ "Louisiana federal judge's caretaker jailed on charges of financially exploiting her".


Legal offices
Preceded by
James Travis Trimble Jr.
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana