Federal Judge Patricia Minaldi admitted Friday that she is battling alcoholism and said it is unclear whether she will return to the bench.
She says she is sober now and that an interdiction filed to have control of her assets taken from her is unwarranted.
“There’s no disputing that I’m in a battle with alcohol," Minaldi said, saying that she doesn't plan to ever drink again. "So far I’m winning that battle. I intend to win it for the rest of my life. But in order to ensure the integrity of the court system and the public’s confidence, I thought it best to take medical leave until it’s clear this problem is under control.”
When asked whether she was ever under the influence on the bench, she said that if that were ever the case, proceedings were stopped. She is currently on leave and says that as of now it is uncertain whether she will return to the bench.
“I really don’t know, Theresa. I think I have a lot of opportunities," she said. "First and foremost I want the community to know I will take no action that would possibly harm this community or its citizens. I’ve dedicated 30 years of my life to protecting the community as an assistant district attorney, a state court judge, and a federal judge, and I’m not going to stop doing that. I just hit a huge bump in the road. And I’m going to do everything I can to smooth that bump out. And I would never put the community at risk because of issues I have.”
Minaldi says she believes she may have been drugged by a person staying at her house, helping to take care of her dogs and pool.
“I had an individual whom I had known for a quite a while. Trusted him," she said. "And I live by myself in a house. I have one 140-pound dog and one small dog, and a swimming pool, and it was getting to be too much to take care of myself. He was out of work. His parents had sold the house he was living in. So I offered to let him come and stay at my house, because I have plenty of room, and take care of those large issues that I had. Unfortunately, he took care of himself rather than taking care of my issues. And along the way, we suspect, with some evidence, that he was drugging me and keeping me incapacitated.”
The interdiction was filed by Federal Magistrate Kathleen Kay, whom Minaldi appointed.
“I have not spoken to her or seen her in well over a month," Minaldi said. "And I don’t think she has any idea what condition I’m in, that I have my faculties. That I’m ambulatory. I walk two-and-a-half miles a day. I teach an exercise class at the facility I’m living at right now. I think it’s a lack of knowledge”
“I certainly don’t want to say anything bad about Judge Kay, but I think it’s gone way too far.”
In court filings unsealed Thursday, Minaldi has been diagnosed with "alcohol use disorder" and "severe Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome," a degenerative brain disorder linked to alcohol abuse. Chief Judge Carl Stewart ordered Minaldi to enter a rehab facility, which she has already done.
She says that she has no basis to dispute the diagnosis.
Minaldi said she believes the stresses of being a former assistant district attorney, a district judge, and a federal judge led her into alcoholism.
"My jobs were very stressful, and I want to stress that I never left a job because I didn't like it," she said. "I left because something else came along. I loved being an assistant district attorney, the state board bench, really enjoyed being on the federal bench, too."
But, she said, going to crime scenes in dangerous areas and going to scenes of crimes against children wore on her.
"Some way or another it's going to catch up to you," she said. "It caught up to me and I didn't handle it properly, but I intend to from this day on."
Minaldi said she agreed to the interview with KPLC because she is a public figure.
“When you’re a public figure, especially doing what I do for a living, the public has a right to know," Minaldi said. "Am I happy about it? Not really. But they have a right to know, and we knew it was going to be released eventually, so it was just going to consume time and energy to fight that.”
The full interview will be posted online at www.kplctv.com and on our KPLC 7News mobile app.
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