On Monday, April 1, 2024, ABC24 reported that Shelby County Judge A. Melissa Boyd resigned from her position, following months of suspension and issues stemming from alleged substance abuse and witness coercion charges.

According to a letter sent to Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Judge Boyd notified her legal counsel that she wished to move up her previously announced resignation date of May 31 to an immediate resignation effective April 2. Governor Lee accepted this immediate resignation.

The sudden change came after Judge Boyd’s bond was revoked at a hearing on March 27 when prosecutors presented evidence that she had failed a drug screening in March by testing positive for cocaine and alcohol. This violated the terms of her bond following arrests in December on charges of coercion of a witness and harassment.

Records show Judge Boyd had been released on a $5,000 bond after her initial December arrest but was rebooked into the Shelby County Jail last week following the bond revocation. Her trial on the pending charges is scheduled for later this month.

The coercion charge stems from allegations that Judge Boyd attempted to get her former campaign manager to falsely testify or withhold testimony between November 2022 and March 2023 during an investigation by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. Though the specific matter is unclear, the Board had been looking into Judge Boyd’s conduct prior to the criminal charges.

In addition to legal troubles, Judge Boyd’s conduct led the Board to place her on interim suspension in December 2023 and recommend her removal from office to the Joint Ad Hoc Committee, citing evidence she used cocaine while serving as a judge. The Committee voted for removal in March 2024.

Senator Ramesh Akbari of Memphis noted Judge Boyd’s immediate resignation allows for her replacement to be appointed while the state legislature remains in session, as the previous May 31 date would have been after the session ended. The replacement process now begins as lawmakers also consider moving her vacated seat through pending legislation.

If that legislation, Senate Bill 2517, passes it would redistribute some judicial duties and increase caseloads for remaining Shelby County judges. However, local judges have expressed concerns about already facing scheduling delays into next year with current caseloads. The bill is still pending approval in both the House and Senate.

Absent that bill’s passage, the standard process involves applicants for Judge Boyd’s former seat being evaluated by a nominating committee, which will select three finalists for Governor Lee to choose between to fill the vacancy until the next August 2024 election.



Source: ABC24