Judge wins University's top honor in law
|Judge Patricia M. Wald
Judge Patricia M. Wald, formerly chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, will receive the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law at Founders’ Day ceremonies on April 13.
The Medal in Law and its counterpart in architecture recognize lasting contributions in fields that were of great interest to Jefferson. The awards are the highest outside honors given by U.Va., which grants no honorary degrees, and are sponsored jointly by the University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Inc., the private, nonprofit organization that has owned and operated Jefferson’s home, Monticello, since 1923.
“Patricia Wald, one of our nation’s leading lawyers, has devoted her considerable talents almost entirely to public service,” said Law School Dean John C. Jeffries Jr., citing her work on the Court of Appeals and on an international criminal tribunal. “She was acknowledged [on the appeals court] as an intellectual leader and as a prudent and informed decision-maker. The recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Law are the most distinguished lawyers and jurists of the past two generations, and Judge Wald is a fitting addition to that proud list.”
In February 2004, President George W. Bush appointed her as the sole woman on the seven-member Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, chaired by former Virginia governor and former Sen. Charles S. Robb and Judge Laurence H. Silberman. The panel was charged with examining U.S. intelligence gathering in light of the war in Iraq. Its report is due March 31, 2005.
Wald served as the first woman on the appeals court from 1979 until 1999 and was chief judge of that court from 1986 to 1991. From 1999 to 2001 she served as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, Netherlands.
Wald was among the international legal experts who examined the statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal established to conduct the impending trial of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. A vocal supporter of the International Criminal Court, Wald was critical of the Bush administration’s withdrawal from that body.
A native of Torrington, Conn., Wald graduated from Connecticut College for Women in 1948 and Yale Law School in 1951. She worked as a law clerk to Judge Jerome N. Frank of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals and served in the Carter administration as assistant U.S. attorney general for legislative affairs until President Carter appointed her to the appeals court in 1979. In March 1998, she replaced fellow intelligence commission member and Circuit Court Judge Laurence H. Silberman.
Judge Wald is a council member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She also served as chairwoman of the Open Society Justice Initiative, a program sponsored by financier and philanthropist George Soros.
Wald is the author of “Law and Poverty” (1965) and co-author of “Bail in the United States” (1964) and “Dealing with Drug Abuse” (1973), and also has written numerous articles on legal subjects. She is a member of the Executive Board of the American Bar Association’s Central and Eastern European Law Institute and sat on the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal. She has received some 20 honorary degrees and been honored by the American and Women’s Bar Associations, the Environmental Law Institute, the International Human Rights Law Group, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
She is married to attorney Robert L. Wald, a partner with Nussbaum & Wald in Washington, D.C. They have five children.