Federal judge was diagnosed with brain disorder caused by alcohol abuse, court filing says

  • Print.

A Louisiana federal judge who was removed from several cases last year has been diagnosed with a brain disorder caused by severe alcohol abuse, according to allegations in court documents released Thursday.

The documents said U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi has been diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and is living in an assisted living facility, report the Associated Press and the American Press. The facility specializes in memory care. Minaldi has been on medical leave since late December.

Minaldi moved into the facility after she spent about a month at a rehab center in Florida, according to a discharge summary reviewed by the American Press. Chief Judge Carl Stewart of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans had required that Minaldi get treatment for 90 days. But the rehab center said she needed admission into an assisted living facility because of cognitive impairment, according to the records.

The redacted documents are part of an interdiction petition filed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay, who served under Minaldi. Kay’s petition alleged that Minaldi is mentally incapacitated and unable to manage her own affairs.

Minaldi’s lawyer has said his client is competent and able to handle her affairs.

The documents were released after the AP and the American Press sued to unseal the case. Lawyers agreed to the release, and a state district court judge approved it on Thursday.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is caused by a thiamine deficiency. The redacted documents don’t reveal whether Minaldi is suffering from a severe form of the disease.

The ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs develops educational materials for lawyers about stress, depression, addictions and other mental health issues. More information is available at its website.

Updated April 14 to add information on Lawyer Assistance Programs.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.