Patricia M. Wald

Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 1999-2001Wald

An interview with Patricia Wald, conducted by David P. Briand and Susana SáCouto on 12 December 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Download the full transcript of the interview (PDF).

Go to the Brandeis Institutional Repository to conduct a keyword search across the entire Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History collection.

Please use the following citation format: Oral History Interview with Patricia Wald (2015), Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project, pages XX, International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University.

Interview content

In this interview, Judge Wald reminisces about her early life and education; her early law career in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s and 1970s; her D.C. Circuit  Court confirmation hearings; work in the former Soviet Union with the Central and Eastern European Law Initiative [CEELI]; her recruitment and decision to become a ICTY judge; experiences in Sarajevo following the Dayton Accords; adjustments to a hybrid system of international law; and discussions with fellow judges on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. She discusses the influence of partisanship in federal courts; language barriers among international judges and staff at the ICTY; working alongside other judges with different legal backgrounds and methods; issues of translation in witness testimony; due process at the ICTY; and reflections on ICTY defendants.

Biographical information

Patricia M. Wald has held a number of legal and judicial positions that prepared her for her judgeship at the ICTY. She was appointed U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs in 1977 and served in this post until her appointment by President Carter to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1979. Judge Wald became the first woman appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court, often referred to as the nation’s second most important court after the Supreme Court. Judge Wald remained on the Court for twenty years and authored more than 800 opinions. In 1986, she became Chief Judge. In addition to her responsibilities as a federal judge,Wald became active in 1994 in the American Bar Association’s Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI), designed to provide technical advice for establishing new judicial structures in the democracies emerging from the former Soviet Union. When she retired from the federal bench in 1999, Judge Wald was appointed as judge at the ICTY where she served a two-year term. Since leaving the ICTY, Judge Wald has continued to serve in many capacities in both the public policy and human rights arenas.