A Tennessee judge may be removed from office after allegedly failing to address substance abuse

Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts / Shelby County Criminal Court Judge A. Melissa Boyd is facing removal from office.
Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts / Shelby County Criminal Court Judge A. Melissa Boyd is facing removal from office.

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge A. Melissa Boyd may be removed from office less than two years after assuming it for using her judgeship to advance the interests of others, allegedly failing to address substance abuse issues and being indicted on a felony charge.

Boyd received two public reprimands and has been suspended since May, which resulted in a unanimous vote in favor of removing her from office, G. Andrew Brigham, chair for the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct, said in a Jan. 25 letter addressed to state legislators.

"Judge Boyd is solely responsible for the untenable situation she has created for herself, the judiciary and the public," the statement said.

Within weeks of taking office, Boyd solicited cash donations and resources on social media for the benefit of a third party, the statement said. Boyd was wearing her judicial robe in the posts.

She agreed to accept a public reprimand, which was issued May 8, for lending the prestige of the judgeship to advance the interests of others and failing to respond to the board's investigation.

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A confidant of Boyd sent affidavits to the conduct board during its investigation, the statement said. The confidant was Boyd's campaign manager during the 2022 election and had maintained a close, personal relationship with her.

The confidant alleged she discovered a white plate with yellow and blue flowers inside of Boyd's closet while at Boyd's home.

"On this plate was a spoon and a white powder, formed into a single narrow line, which I believed to be cocaine," the woman wrote, according to the statement.

Boyd allegedly admitted to using cocaine on and off throughout 2022 when she was confronted, the statement said. The woman also allegedly saw Boyd smoking marijuana multiple times since she was elected.

The woman woke up at 2:30 a.m. in January 2023 to find Boyd sitting outside of her home and taking pictures of her property, she wrote, according to the statement. Boyd allegedly asked her to withdraw her complaint several times, the woman said, but she would not give in to the efforts to intimidate her despite fearing retaliation.

Through her attorney, Boyd did not deny the facts and allegations about her cocaine use, the statement said. Boyd asked to seek treatment and entered into a negotiated suspension from the bench.

Boyd failed to comply with her treatment plan, so it was released to the public as a reprimand in October.

She agreed to be interviewed by the Daily Memphian during her suspension, the statement said.

"I don't care because guess what? The people elected me," Boyd said in the interview. "In order for me to be removed, they have to go to the state legislature. Let them do it."

She was given an opportunity to resign but did not respond, the statement said. In January, Boyd told the conduct board that she arrived at a rehab facility.

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Boyd was recently indicted on one count of coercion of a witness, a felony, and one count of harassment. If found guilty, she is facing up to 12 years in prison.

Other Shelby County Criminal Court judges picked up Boyd's slack while she continued to collect her full salary and benefits, the statement said.

"There is no end in sight but for her removal," the statement said.

Arthur Horne, the lead attorney representing Boyd in her criminal case, did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment; Attorney Carlissa Shaw, who is also representing Boyd, did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Sofia Saric at ssaric@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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