Oral History of Patricia M. Wald

Patricia McGowan Wald is a retired Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where she served from 1979-1999. She was a justice on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from 1991-2001. Judge Wald has written over 800 opinions, many dealing with individual rights and constitutional liberties.

Prior to her judicial service Judge Wald was the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs in the Department of Justice in the Carter Administration. While in that office she participated in the passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (1978). Before that she had been the Litigation Director of the Mental Health Law Project, a Legal Services attorney and an associate at Arnold, Fortas & Porter. She was a member of the President’s Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia as well as the American Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice Standards Project and the ABA Project on Standards for Criminal Justice. She also served on the ABA’s Executive Committee for the Central and European Law Initiative which advanced the rule of law in former Soviet Union satellite countries during the 1990s. She was a Council member and Vice President of the American Law Institute.

Since her retirement from the bench Judge Wald has consulted widely on rule of law and human rights issues with public interest organizations. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Open Society Foundation’s Justice Initiative, promoting human rights and rule of law abroad, a Co-Chair of the Advisory Board to DLA Pipers New Perimeter which engages in global pro bono work, a Board member of the American Constitution Society and the Center for Constitutional Accountability and a consultant to the Constitution Project. She was also a member of the ABA’s Task Force on Signing Statements and the ABA Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions. In 2008 she received the ABA Meal of Honor, its highest award. In 2004 President Bush appointed her to the President’s Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United Sates with regard to Weapons of Mass Destruction which produced a 500 page report in 2005. In 2012 President Obama appointed her to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. In 2013 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is the author of over 100 articles and 4 books including several on national and international criminal and constitutional law and processes.

Judge Wald is a graduate of Connecticut College where she received a B.A. and of Yale Law School where she earned her LL.B. and was an officer of the Yale Law Journal and Order of the Coif. She was married to Robert Wald and is the mother of five children and a grandmother of 10.

Curriculum Vitae

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Adam Bernstein, Patricia Wald, pathbreaking federal judge who became chief of D.C. Circuit, dies at 90, The Washington Post (Jan. 12, 2019), [].

Neil A. Lewis, Patricia Wald, First Woman to Preside Over D.C. Appeals Court, Dies at 90, The New York Times (Jan. 12, 2019), [].