Suit: federal judge mentally incompetent

by Walter Pierce

U.S. District Judge Patricia Mindaldi, who was yanked from the trial of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal, has been away on an extended leave of absence since late January.

U.S. District Judge Patricia Rinaldi

A suit citing mental incapacity was filed in mid-March seeking to prevent U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi from managing her financial affairs, according to report today in The (Lake Charles) American Press. Filed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen Kay, who works under Minaldi in the Western District of Louisiana, the so-called notice of interdiction would assign to Minaldi a curator to manage her estate and other finances. The Lake Charles daily reports that a judge on Friday granted Minaldi an exception because she wasn’t served with the suit in a timely manner.

Minaldi’s potential mental-health issues surfaced last October when she was abruptly removed from presiding over the federal trial of Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal. Chief Judge Dee Drell of the Western District of Louisiana yanked Minaldi from the case without explanation; Ackal’s legal team filed suit to have her reinstated, but a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Drell’s decision. Drell later transferred nearly 30 trials from Minaldi to other judges, and in late January the clerk of court for the Western District announced that Minaldi was surrendering a slew of cases and would take a medical leave of absence for unspecified reasons.

The American Press was unable to obtain much information from what’s on file with the district court where the suit was filed because most of it was sealed. The paper vows in today’s report to file a motion seeking to have the suit unsealed.

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