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Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd in Memphis, Tennessee has resigned from her position after being charged with coercion of a witness and harassment and being jailed for violating her bond agreement by testing positive for cocaine. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee accepted her resignation after she initially stated she would step down at the end of May. Boyd was elected in 2022 and stands accused of attempting to influence her former campaign manager, Lashanta Rudd, to testify falsely or withhold truthful testimony in an official proceeding. The indictment also alleges that Boyd’s communications with Rudd were meant to annoy, alarm, or frighten her. Boyd has pleaded not guilty to these charges.

Boyd’s suspension in May stemmed from accusations that she threatened an acquaintance, solicited money using her role as a judge, and struggled with substance abuse issues. Court documents revealed that Boyd was ordered to undergo drug screening and refrained from drug use as conditions of her release. However, after testing positive for cocaine twice in March and failing to report for another drug test, prosecutors sought to have her bond revoked. During a hearing, Boyd’s attorney expressed concern for her well-being, stating that she was in a full relapse and not thinking clearly, indicating that she needed help. Boyd’s trial is currently scheduled for April 24.

A hearing regarding Boyd’s potential removal from the bench had been scheduled in the Tennessee General Assembly for Thursday, as state law permits judges to be referred to the Legislature after receiving two public reprimands. Boyd’s indictment did not specify the official proceeding in which she allegedly attempted to influence Rudd’s testimony. In addition to the coercion charge, Boyd was accused of harassment in her interactions with Rudd. These charges prompted her resignation, marking the end of her tenure as a judge in Shelby County.

Boyd had initially announced her resignation to the Administrative Office of the Courts, stating that she would step down immediately rather than at the end of May, as previously planned. This decision came following her incarceration for violating her bond related to drug use. Boyd’s situation highlights the challenges faced by individuals struggling with substance abuse, as well as the impact of such issues on professional responsibilities and legal proceedings. Despite the resignation and legal proceedings, Boyd maintains her plea of not guilty to the charges brought against her, with her trial scheduled to take place later in April.

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