By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press
A federal judge whose unusual behavior preceded her mysterious removal from a string of cases was ordered to get treatment for alcoholism so severe a colleague believes she cannot take care of herself, according to court records released Thursday.
The records revealing U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi’s alcoholism don’t answer whether it was a factor in the secretive interruptions in her Louisiana courtroom. But the documents show she moved into an assisted living facility specializing in “memory care” within three months of presiding over a criminal trial that was cut short without explanation.
The mandate for Minaldi to complete at least 90 days of substance abuse treatment came from a higher court official — the chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A newly released medical record cites the severity of Minaldi’s alcoholism and unspecified “legal consequences she had attained” as the reasons for that requirement.
It is unclear when Chief Judge Carl Stewart imposed that mandate, but Minaldi, 58, has been on medical leave since late December. She arrived at a rehab facility Jan. 4, according to a “patient discharge summary” included in the now-unsealed records.