The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct is accusing Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd of using cocaine and marijuana in the months since she was elected.
The board, which oversees judicial conduct, made the allegations in a letter to Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. The Nov. 6 letter came days after Boyd received a second reprimand from the Board of Judicial Conduct, and points to the General Assembly’s ability to remove a judge from office. The board does not have that power.
“Finally, please note that the board does not make this report lightly,” the letter reads. “As you are aware, the board cannot permanently remove a judge from office, as that authority is vested in the General Assembly. However, Judge Boyd has now received two public reprimands and has been suspended since May 22, 2023, all within the short time she has been a judge and while continuing to collect her state salary and benefits.”
Attached to the letter are also two affidavits from Lashanta Rudd, who served as Boyd’s campaign manager during her election in 2022. The first of the affidavits is dated Dec. 7, 2022, and alleges Boyd came to her house, and “smelled like alcohol and was visibly intoxicated,” after Rudd did not respond to text messages one night.
“Unhappy that I did not respond, Judge Boyd came to my residence uninvited and began banging on my bedroom window and front door which woke me up,” the affidavit read. “When I allowed Judge Boyd into my home, she initiated a tense and hostile conversation because I had not responded to her messages. Judge Boyd smelled like alcohol and was visibly intoxicated. I have seen Judge Boy intoxicated many times before and after she was elected and, when she drinks, she becomes aggressive and hostile. Judge Boyd has a drinking problem for which she needs help. I have repeatedly encouraged her to seek treatment to no avail.”
About a month after Boyd allegedly came to Rudd’s home, which happened on Oct. 29, 2022, Rudd said she had a conversation with Boyd about the judge “investigating [Rudd’s] personal relationships.” During this Nov. 26, 2022 discussion, Boyd is alleged to have pointed her finger at Rudd before putting her hand over Rudd’s mouth, telling her to “shut up” and to “not mess with her because she is a judge.”
The second affidavit, dated Feb. 3, 2023, alleges Boyd used cocaine and marijuana while on the bench. According to Rudd, she was at Boyd’s house to take her to a doctor’s appointment.
“While looking for a pair of hair clippers, I discovered a white plate with yellow and blue flowers inside of Judge Boyd’s closet,” Rudd’s affidavit said. “On this plate was a spoon and a white powder, formed into a single narrow line, which I believed to be cocaine. After returning from her doctor visit, I began questioning Judge Boyd about finding the white substance in her closet. During this conversation, Judge Boyd admitted that it was cocaine. During the same conversation, Judge Boyd admitted that she has used cocaine off and on for the last year, and that she used cocaine once during the week of December 12, 2022. She told me she did not use it every day.”
The affidavit goes on to say Rudd had seen Boyd “smoke marijuana multiple times since she was elected.” According to the board, this conversation was recorded and a picture of the plate and powdered substance was taken by Rudd and then shared with Boyd, Boyd’s attorney and the board.
In a response to the board’s notification, Boyd’s attorney “did ‘not deny the facts and allegations set forth’” about her alleged cocaine use, and “requested ‘the opportunity to take time to receive treatment for her illnesses.’”
The Commercial Appeal reached out to Boyd’s attorney, Michael Scholl, for comment. Scholl did not respond at the time of publication.
Possession of cocaine is a Class B felony in Tennessee when someone is found to have had more than a half gram in their possession, and a Class C felony if less than that is found. It is not clear how much cocaine Boyd is alleged to have had in her possession.
The affidavit goes on to describe a second incident, this one happening at around 2:30 a.m. Jan. 21 of this year, where Boyd was allegedly sitting outside Rudd’s house and taking pictures of the property. Rudd says Boyd then texted her a picture of the vehicles outside the home, and accused her of having someone in her home. One of the text messages said, “You got your n—a in your bed,” and another one said, “Who is the w—e seriously?”
Rudd said she invited Boyd into her home, and when Boyd saw there was nobody else inside, she “became argumentative and appeared to be intoxicated and high as her speech was slurred,” according to the affidavit.
According to Rudd, Boyd had texted her pictures of her marriage license and information about the divorce days before the Jan. 21 incident. The second affidavit also accused Boyd of trying to get Rudd to withdraw her complaint to the board.
Boyd had previously told the board that she had sent the text messages and that her behavior was inappropriate in an early April letter, the board said. It was in this letter that Boyd told the board she was experiencing “grief-related issues due to the passing of several family members and the sudden illness of another family member.”