After more than three weeks of investigation, the Lake Charles, Louisiana Police Department has concluded its investigation into a Jan. 23 incident involving U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi.
Police reviewed in-car video camera footage, witness statements and officer observations, as as a result, charged Judge Minaldi with first-offense DWI.
Minaldi was originally taken into custody and transported to police headquarters, where she was issued an open-container citation.
The video footage obtained by KPLC-TV in Lake Charles shows officers attempting to remove Minaldi from her vehicle by asking several times.
"Ms. Minaldi, can you please get out of the car," an officer is heard saying.
"No, I'm not going to do that," she responds.
"Okay, well I need you to step out of the car anyway, then," the officer said.
"No, I'm not going to do that," Minaldi repeated.
"Okay, you can refuse a field sobriety test, but I still need you to step out of the car then," the officer said.
"No." she said.
"Now Mrs. Minaldi, would you please get out of your car?" the officer continues.
"Judge..." she said.
"Judge Minaldi, would you please get out of your vehicle?" the officer asks again.
"If my supervisor asks, would you please get out for him?"
"Now, I'm ordering you to get out of your vehicle."
"You can't order me to do that," Minaldi advised.
"Yes ma'am, I can," the officer responded. "Get out of your car.... get out of your vehicle."
The judge responded slowly and succinctly, "I. am. on. my. own. property."
"That's correct," the officer acknowledged. "That is because you refused to pull over until you got here."
Minaldi was pursued for several miles before pulling into the driveway at her home. Police were responding to a 911 call from the driver of a vehicle who reported an erratic driver... crossing left of center, swerving, slowing down and speeding up. She was driving a late model white convertible Ford Thunderbird.
"I'm calling to report an intoxicated driver," the 911 caller stated. "She's weaving all over the world. Tried to turn the wrong way onto the Interstate. She's crossing the center line, and she's weaving like an "S" down the road. ... Oh, she almost got into a wreck."
After 19 minutes in the judge's driveway, the officer asking the judge to get out of her car and the judge refusing, the officer advises, "I'm going to brace you in an escort position and remove you from your vehicle now, okay?"
The officer places her under arrest and reads he her Miranda rights. As he's telling her she has the right to remain silent, she interrupts, "I know that.... God... Do you think I don't know that?"
While searching the vehicle, officers find a cup of white liquid.
"Is that white wine," the officer asks.
"I have no idea," Minaldi retorts.
As she is brought from her home to the police department headquarters, she asks for other officers by name.
"I'm ordering you to get out of the car," the officer said before Minaldi responded.
Minaldi was ultimately issued an open container citation and released. The PD later decided on the added DWI charges. A first offense DWI (DUI) is a misdemeanor citation.
She never consented to a field sobriety test.
The next step in the legal process is an arraignment at city court.
Patricia Head Minaldi (born 1959) is a District Judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. She joined the court in 2003 after being nominated by President George W. Bush.
She had previously been an assistant district attorney in New Orleans and then later in Calcasieu Parish, before being elected District Judge for the 14th Judicial District, State of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish.
KPLC News story on the investigation
Full dash cam footage of the police pursuit of U.S. District Judge Pat Minaldi and her subsequent arrest. Warning: Footage is over one hour as the Judge led the police through town and to her home where she claimed she did not have to cooperate with them because she was on private property.
911 call from driver reporting erratic driver, who turns out to be federal judge