Shelby County Judge Accused Of Drug Use While In Office

Image Credit: tncourts.gov & cmh2315fl / CC

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd has been accused by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct of using cocaine and marijuana since she was elected a few months ago. 

The board, which is in charge of overseeing judicial conduct, voiced these allegations in a letter addressed to Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), and House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). Boyd had received a second reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct just days before the letter was received. The letter alludes to the General Assembly’s ability to remove a judge from office; the board does not have that power. 

“Finally, please note that the board does not make this report lightly,” the letter read. “As you are aware, the board cannot permanently remove a judge from office, as that authority is vested in the General Assembly. However, Judge Boyd has now received two public reprimands and has been suspended since May 22, 2023, all within the short time she has been a judge and while continuing to collect her state salary and benefits.”

There were also two affidavits attached to the letter, coming from Lashanta Rudd who served as Boyd’s campaign manager during her election in 2022. The first one dated on December 7, 2022, alleges Boyd came to her house on October 29, 2022, and “smelled like alcohol and was visibly intoxicated,” after Rudd did not respond to her messages one night. 

“Unhappy that I did not respond, Judge Boyd came to my residence uninvited and began banging on my bedroom window and front door which woke me up,” the affidavit read. “When I allowed Judge Boyd into my home, she initiated a tense and hostile conversation because I had not responded to her messages. Judge Boyd smelled like alcohol and was visibly intoxicated. I have seen Judge Boy intoxicated many times before and after she was elected and, when she drinks, she becomes aggressive and hostile. Judge Boyd has a drinking problem for which she needs help. I have repeatedly encouraged her to seek treatment to no avail.”

After Boyd came to Rudd’s home, Rudd had a conversation with Boyd about the judge “investigating her personal relationships.” Boyd is alleged to have pointed her finger at Rudd, putting her hand over Rudd’s mouth, telling her to “shut up” and to “not mess with her because she is a judge” during their discussion. 

The second affidavit alleges Boyd used cocaine and marijuana while on the bench. This affidavit was dated February 3, 2023. According to Rudd, she was at Boyd’s house to transport her to a doctor’s appointment. 

“While looking for a pair of hair clippers, I discovered a white plate with yellow and blue flowers inside of Judge Boyd’s closet,” Rudd’s affidavit said. “On this plate was a spoon and a white powder, formed into a single narrow line, which I believed to be cocaine. After returning from her doctor’s visit, I began questioning Judge Boyd about finding the white substance in her closet. During this conversation, Judge Boyd admitted that it was cocaine. During the same conversation, Judge Boyd admitted that she has used cocaine off and on for the last year and that she used cocaine once during the week of December 12, 2022. She told me she did not use it every day.”

The affidavit goes on to say that Rudd had seen Boyd “smoke marijuana multiple times since she was elected.” According to the board, Rudd had taken a picture of the plate and powdered substance as well as recorded the conversation. She went on to share the evidence with Boyd, Boyd’s attorney and the board. 

Boyd’s attorney did not deny the facts or allegations about Boyd’s alleged cocaine use, and requested ‘the opportunity to take time to receive treatment for her illnesses.”

The Commercial Appeal reported that it is unclear how much cocaine Boyd is alleged to have had in her possession. Possession of cocaine is a Class B felony in Tennessee if someone has more than a half gram in their possession and a Class C felony if less than that is discovered. 

A second incident is described in the affidavit, this one which occurred around 2:30 a.m. on January 21 of this year. Boyd is alleged to have been sitting outside Rudd’s house taking pictures of the property. Rudd says she then received a text from Boyd with a picture of the vehicles outside the home, and Boyd accused her of having someone in her home. One of the text messages said, “You got your n—a in your bed,” and another one said, “Who is the w—e seriously?”

Rudd said she invited Boyd into her home, and when Boyd saw there was nobody else inside, she “became argumentative and appeared to be intoxicated and high as her speech was slurred,” according to the affidavit.

Rudd also said that Boyd had previously messaged her with pictures of her marriage license and information about the divorce. The second affidavit also describes Boyd trying to get Rudd to withdraw her complaint to the board. 

Boyd had told the board previously that she had sent the text messages and admitted her behavior was inappropriate. Boyd explained in this letter that she was experiencing “grief-related issues due to the passing of several family members and the sudden illness of another family member.”

Boyd agreed with the board to enter a negotiated suspension with the board after she was found in possession of cocaine in May 2023. This was not made public until it was said that she violated the terms of her suspension by not receiving treatment for her substance abuse issues. 

In her second reprimand, which was levied after she did not abide by the terms of the suspension, that order was made public and referenced a letter from the Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP). That letter was not included in the reprimand but was included in the letter to the General Assembly.

The letter from TLAP said Boyd had been provided a list of treatment facilities she could choose from, but never completed an assessment with any of them. According to TLAP, she scheduled an assessment with the facility but failed to show up for the appointment. After that, TLAP said, Boyd texted the facility on September 26 this year to set an appointment for November 13, but did not respond to communications to confirm the date.

“TLAP has done everything possible to support Judge Boyd, but she is not cooperating with TLAP and has for five months declined to honor the attached preliminary monitoring agreement,” TLAP wrote in the letter.

Boyd was initially reprimanded for allegedly soliciting money for a school by using her role as a judge. 

“Judges are expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct at all times,” the reprimand read. “…Conflating judicial office with promoting the private interests of others is prohibited. Here, you lent the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of others by soliciting money and resources on social media.”

Judges are prohibited, by state law, from using their position to advance their personal interests or those of others. 

Prior to being elected to the bench in Shelby County Criminal Court Division 9, Boyd was reprimanded in 2015 by the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee.

This reprimand led to Boyd being suspended from practicing law for a year – 30 of those days of which were spent on active suspension and the remainder on probation. 

“Ms. Boyd failed to act with diligence in the handling of a petition to change custody, failed to deposit an unearned fee into a trust account and failed to refund the fee when terminated prior to performing the work,” a 2015 release about Boyd’s suspension read.

The suspension also required Boyd to report monthly to the Board of Professional Responsibility and pay $1,000 restitution to a client, as well as $944 to the Board of Professional Responsibility for the expenses of the hearing process. 

Since Boyd’s removal from the bench in May, former Judge Mark Ward was slated to take over her position. Ward previously sat on the Division 9 bench but lost the bid for reelection to Boyd in 2022. 

For unclear reasons, Ward did not take over the docket, and Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft, who sits on the Division 8 bench, has covered instead.

Though the Board of Judicial Conduct has the power to suspend a judge, which they have done, they do not have the ability to remove a judge. The General Assembly is the only one who can do that. 

Although the board’s letter to the General Assembly does not directly request she be impeached, it says it is “fulfilling its statutory obligation to report” Boyd to the legislature for whatever action it deems appropriate. 

If this process began, the legislation would first be brought through the House and then tried by the Senate, per the Tennessee Constitution. Two-thirds of all senators would have to vote in favor of impeachment, and if impeached Boyd would not be allowed to hold the same office again. 

The letter from the board to legislative leaders provided notice to the House and Senate speakers. Also copied on the letter were Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga,, who is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, who is the chairman of the House Civil Justice Committee.

2 thoughts on “Shelby County Judge Accused Of Drug Use While In Office

  • November 18, 2023 at 1:28 pm
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    If she’s drinking and snorting Coke that should be grounds for removal, but don’t drag Marijuana into it. There’s far too many “Conservatives” that still have that Reefer Madness mentality and that’s a sad testimony to the intellect (actually lack thereof) of all too many so-called Christians and Conservatives in Tennessee.
    The founding fathers grew Cannabis. Get it through your heads.

    Reply
    • December 14, 2023 at 1:34 pm
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      Are you seriously blaming conservatives for this Democrat judges insanity. YOU are what’s wrong with the current Democrat party 100%. A bunch of far left extrem con artist raping the tax payer and creating false flags every few months to keep you sheep in line. Sad and pathetic

      Reply

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