Minaldi calls move to interdict her 'harsh' and 'overstepping' - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Minaldi calls move to interdict her 'harsh' and 'overstepping'

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

It's been nearly three months since U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi took medical leave and has been away from the bench  And more recently a petition has been filed seeking to have someone else manage Minaldi's affairs, suggesting she can't take care of herself. Minaldi is fighting the attempt.

It's a situation legal experts call bizarre - a petition to have someone else put in charge of the affairs of federal Judge Patricia Minaldi, filed by the Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay, whom Minaldi appointed.

Kay's attorney, Tom Lorenzi, confirmed she is acting in her personal capacity as a longtime friend of Minaldi.

But Minaldi is fighting it. Her attorney Glen Vamvoras said, "The plaintiff (Kay) is seeking to permanently interdict Judge Minaldi. Minaldi feels the petition for permanent interdiction is harsh and overstepping. Hopefully, the matter can be amicably resolved."

The record in the state proceeding to have Minaldi's affairs taken over is sealed

University of Pittsburgh Law School professor Arthur Hellman is an expert in judicial ethics.

"It's certainly unfortunate and it does not promote confidence in the system when records are sealed like that. When somebody becomes a federal judge, he or she does give up, to some degree, privacy an ordinary citizen would have," he said.

Legal experts say it's an extremely unusual situation.

"I can't remember any episode where essentially you have two federal judges, because a magistrate judge is a federal judge, fighting it out in a state court," said Hellman.

Loyola Law Professor Dane Ciolino agrees.

"To have a petitioner for interdiction being a United States Magistrate Judge who essentially works for the district judge, makes it just a very unusual matter. Because usually interdiction petitions are filed by a family member, usually children or spouses," he said.

Minaldi has served on the bench since 2003, but pleaded guilty to a drunk driving charge in 2014.  Even if the judge in the interdiction finds against Minaldi, the experts say it would have no immediate effect on her position on the bench, since federal judge's are appointed for life.

"If she meets the criteria for interdiction she would as a practical matter she would not be fit to service as a United States district judge and I say that because the criteria for interdiction in Louisiana are that the person subject to the interdiction is unable consistently to make reasoned decisions about the care of themselves or their property,"said Ciolino.

Federal judges only leave the bench by impeachment or by retiring. Minaldi has been on medical leave since January. 

State District Judge Ron Ware is overseeing the case about whether Minaldi needs someone to oversee her personal affairs.   Because the record is sealed, no word as to when there may be a hearing on the interdiction petition.

Copyright 2017 KPLC All rights reserved

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