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Embroiled in scandal, Judge Boyd taken into custody after bond is revoked

In a reversal of fortune, Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd was taken into custody after her bond was revoked for violating conditions of her release during a hearing at the Shelby County courthouse on Wednesday, March 27.

The suspended magistrate failed two court-ordered drug and alcohol tests on March 12 and March 15. She had been out on a $5,000 bond since Dec. 13. 

Her trial is slated to begin on April 24. She will remain in custody until it begins.

Boyd’s drug use first came to light during her brief time on the bench. She was elected in 2022.

A woman claiming to be her former campaign manager, Lashanta Rudd, first reported her use of cocaine and marijuana to the state’s judicial oversight board. Following the allegations, Boyd was accused of showing up at the woman’s home and verbally abused her. It was also reported in an affidavit that Boyd, 59, told her to “shut up” and “not mess with her,” while noting her position as a judge.

As a result, Boyd was indicted for harassment and coercing a witness. She also was ordered to seek substance abuse treatment. Eventually, it was completed at a Georgia facility. 

Boyd has claimed the two were once in a relationship. One of her lawyers also disputed that Rudd served as her campaign manager during Wednesday’s bond hearing.

Following the charges, the former prosecutor was also suspended from the bench in May 2023. She still draws nearly $17,000 a month in salary.

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct has recommended her removal. However, that is the limit of their power. The panel previously reprimanded Boyd on Oct. 31, for falling to complete a court-ordered substance abuse evaluation.

Nevertheless, a Tennessee General Assembly Joint Ad Hoc committee took up the issue. The bipartisan group recommended her removal from office on March 14. House Joint Resolution 1138, which calls for the full House and Senate to weigh in on her removal. A vote by state legislators is set for April 4. The current legislative calendar runs out between April and May.

If lawmakers vote to remove Boyd, a temporary replacement could be named by Governor Bill Lee. Then again, a proposed amendment recently filed would eliminate the seat occupied by Boyd, along with another judicial seat in the Shelby County Circuit Court.

If Boyd isn’t removed and the seat survives, she could always choose to run again. But a criminal conviction could imperial her law license, rendering her ineligible to serve as a judge. 

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