Tennessee governor accepts resignation of Memphis judge indicted on coercion, harassment charges

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a Memphis judge who has been charged with coercion of a witness and harassment, and then jailed after she violated her bond agreement by testing positive for cocaine.

Erin Merrick, Lee's chief counsel, wrote in a brief letter that the governor has accepted the resignation of Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd.

Boyd sent a letter Tuesday to the state Administrative Office of the Courts saying she was resigning immediately. That came a day after she sent a letter saying she would step down at the end of May.

A hearing about her removal from the bench had been previously scheduled in the Tennessee General Assembly for Thursday. Under state law, judges can be referred to the Legislature after receiving two public reprimands.

Elected in 2022, Boyd is accused of coercing, influencing or attempting to influence Lashanta Rudd, her former campaign manager, to testify falsely or “withhold truthful testimony” in an official proceeding, the indictment says. The indictment does not describe the official proceeding.

The indictment also says Boyd’s communications with Rudd were attempts to annoy, alarm or frighten her. Boyd has pleaded not guilty.

Boyd was suspended in May after she was accused of threatening an acquaintance, soliciting money by using her role as a judge and substance abuse. The accusations include asking for donations for a school in a social media post showing Boyd wearing a judicial robe.

Under conditions of her release, Boyd was ordered to undergo drug screening and told not to use drugs. Prosecutors asked for her bond to be revoked after she twice tested positive for cocaine in March and failed to report to another drug test, court documents showed.

In a hearing last Wednesday, Judge Roy Morgan revoked her bond and sent her to jail.

During the hearing, Arthur Horne III, one of Boyd’s attorneys, said that Boyd “needs help” and has not been cooperating with them, saying the judge was “in a full relapse” and is “not thinking with a clear head,” the Commercial Appeal reported.

Boyd’s trial is scheduled for April 24.