Funeral services have been set for retired Federal Judge Patricia Head Minaldi who died at 60 years old Saturday in Lake Charles.
Visitation will be 5-8 p.m. today at Johnson Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at St. Margaret Catholic Church.
Born in Massachusetts, Minaldi grew up primarily in Connecticut. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and her law degree from Tulane University Law School.
Minaldi began her career as an assistant with then-Orleans Parish District Attorney Harry Connick and worked in that capacity from 1983-86.
In 1986, she approached newly-elected Calcasieu Parish District Attorney Richard Ieyoub seeking a position on his staff and she got a job working as a felony prosecutor.
Minaldi was elected as a judge for the 14th Judicial District Court in 1996 — the first female judge for the district.
In 2003, Minaldi was appointed by then-President George W. Bush to serve as a United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana where she served until retiring on disability in 2017.
First Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Killingsworth, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's Office, said, "I was so sad to hear about the death of Judge Patricia Minaldi. We worked together for many years when she was an assistant district attorney and when she was a district court judge. Judge Minaldi had a brilliant legal mind and sought fairness for those who came before her. I very much admired her for this. She will be so very missed."
Former career prosecutor Rick Bryant who worked for the DA's office for many years and has since gone into private practice, posted a tribute to Minaldi on Facebook.
In the post, Bryant said: "Goodbye, Norma Jean. In 1987, I was chief felony prosecutor under District Attorney Richard Ieyoub. He was interviewing a young prosecutor from the New Orleans District Attorneys Office and Richard asked me to show her Lake Charles. She accepted the position of felony prosecutor. That lady was Patricia Head, who later married Thad Minaldi. Patti and I would become good friends and we worked together on many cases. She was brilliant, she was organized, confidant, tenacious and intimidating in the courtroom. I asked her to serve as second chair in the first Ricky Langley trial in Baton Rouge. I asked that she handle the cross examination of the defense-hired expert who claimed Langley was not guilty because he was insane. Patti prepared for months and when he took the stand, Patti destroyed him with a withering cross examination."
Bryant continued, "One day, Patti decided that she wanted to run for judge. She ran for the 14th District Court opening for a district judge. She campaigned as hard for that seat as she had in trying cases and she won. She was one of the first women on the bench and turned out to be a great judge, fair, compassionate and respected by all. Patti wasn't done. When an opening came up for a federal district court judgeship, she fought for that seat. Again, through her talent and her tenacity, President George Bush appointed her as a federal district judge. Patricia Minaldi's death shocked and saddened me. Her 30-year legal career was unique and she left an amazing legacy. She was a role model to many young women who saw her success and wanted to be just like her. We all knew that Patti fought many health issues and she courageously admitted to her struggles. But let us remember her for all she did for victims and law enforcement and the people of the parish she served with such distinction. She loved Calcasieu Parish, but most of all she loved her sons Jake and Michael. She was so proud of the men they had become. I shall truly miss her, she was one of a kind. Rest in peace Patti, your candle blew out far too soon."
District Attorney John DeRosier said of Minaldi's death that it was a "sad loss" to the community and that Minaldi was a "fantastic prosecutor."
DeRosier said Minaldi was a "great judge, a good person, she was very smart, very beautiful, and had everything going for her." He said she was a credit to the community and "her unfortunate illness has now taken a toll."
Minaldi is survived by her sons, John Anthony "Jake" Minaldi of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Michael Patrick Minaldi of New Orleans. She is also survived by two sisters and their husbands, and multiple nieces and nephews.
Family of Minaldi ask that those wishing to honor her memory donate to St. Margaret Catholic School, the St. Louis Catholic High School Foundation, the Louisiana Boxer Rescue, or to the charity of their choice.