On Thursday, January 25, 2024, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct recommended the removal of Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd to the General Assembly. This recommendation comes after months of controversies and allegations surrounding Judge Boyd.
The board sent a letter to Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton explaining their decision. According to the letter, Judge Boyd had previously received two public reprimands from the board for various ethical violations. In May 2023, Judge Boyd was suspended from the bench after accusations of threatening an acquaintance, improperly soliciting money while in her judicial robe, and substance abuse issues.
As part of the suspension, Judge Boyd agreed to seek treatment. However, the board claims she did not comply with the treatment orders. In November 2023, Judge Boyd’s suspension was made public after she allegedly violated the terms of the initial suspension. She was then referred to the General Assembly for further action.
More recently, Judge Boyd was indicted in December 2023 on charges of witness coercion and harassment related to interactions with her former campaign manager. According to prosecutors, Judge Boyd repeatedly pressured the campaign manager to recant statements made to the oversight board about Judge Boyd’s misconduct and substance abuse issues.
Leading up to these events, Judge Boyd has faced accusations of asking for donations while wearing her judicial robe in 2022. She also took a leave of absence in May 2023 citing an undisclosed illness, which coincided with her initial suspension from the bench. Other judges have had to assume Judge Boyd’s caseload during her absence.
In their letter, the board said they did not make the recommendation of removal lightly. However, Judge Boyd was specifically warned in May 2023 that judges must maintain high ethical standards at all times. Despite multiple opportunities for treatment, the board claims Judge Boyd failed to comply and address her substance abuse issues.
At a recent board meeting on January 24, 2024, members voted unanimously to recommend Judge Boyd’s removal. Judge Boyd’s attorney said she hopes her current treatment will sway legislators. However, the board’s letter emphasized Judge Boyd’s “irrational actions” prior to treatment and her refusal to take responsibility for repeated noncompliance with court orders.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.