Patricia McGowan Wald (born September 16, 1928) is an American judge. Wald served as the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and served as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She currently serves as a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and on the Council of the American Law Institute.
Wald graduated from Connecticut College in 1948 and earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1951. Following her graduation, she clerked for Judge Jerome Frank of the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Second Circuit for a year; during that year, Frank ruled on the appeal of the espionage conviction of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. She briefly entered private practice, only to leave for a number of years to help raise her five children.
Wald returned to the legal profession full-time in 1968, working in the field of public interest law for a decade. A Democrat, she served as Assistant Attorney General for legislative affairs during much of the Carter administration before being appointed by Carter to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on April 30, 1979. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 24, 1979, and received her commission on July 26, 1979. She remained on the court until 1999 and served as its chief judge from 1986 to 1991.
Retiring from the U.S. courts, Wald was the United States's representative to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She currently chairs the board of directors of the Open Society Justice Initiative and is a member of the board of directors for Mental Disability Rights International. Wald is a member of the global council of the California International Law Center at the University of California, Davis School of Law.
On 6 February 2004, Wald was appointed to the Iraq Intelligence Commission, an independent panel tasked with investigating U.S. intelligence surrounding the United States' 2003 invasion of Iraq and Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Wald agreed to serve on The Constitution Project's Guantanamo Task Force in December 2010. In August 2012, Wald was confirmed by the Senate as a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
On November 20, 2013, Wald was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
On December 12, 2013, the Senate voted 57-41 to invoke cloture on her nomination to serve another six year-term on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, thus cutting off a filibuster that had been led by Republican senators. Later that same day, senators again voted 57-41 to confirm Wald to that six-year term, which expires on January 29, 2019.