NATIONAL NEWS

A new judge is appointed in the case of a Memphis judge indicted on coercion, harassment charges

Dec 14, 2023, 2:44 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court on Thursday appointed a new judge to preside over the case of another judge who has been indicted on charges of coercion of a witness and harassment in Memphis.

Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Melissa Boyd was indicted Tuesday and booked Wednesday on the charges, which follow her suspension from the bench earlier this year.

Boyd’s colleague, Judge Jennifer Mitchell, recused herself from the case on Wednesday. The Tennessee Supreme Court appointed Roy B. Morgan Jr., a senior judge in the state court system, to the case, court documents show.

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. Online court records do not show if Boyd has a lawyer to speak on her behalf about the charges. Boyd is out of jail on bond.

Rudd had brought allegations against Boyd to the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. The accusations included that Boyd used marijuana and cocaine and that she would show up to the campaign manager’s house and verbally harass her, news outlets reported

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, news outlets reported. The accusations include asking for donations for a school in a social media post showing Boyd wearing a judicial robe.

Boyd had been ordered to undergo a “physical, mental health, and/or substance abuse or addiction evaluation” by the Tennessee Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

She told The Daily Memphian newspaper that she would not complete the evaluation before returning to the bench, citing the high cost of the assessment and a belief that it would be unnecessary.

“There’s no one that knows me that would say I have a conduct problem or behavior problem or psychiatric problem or any other problem,” she told the newspaper in an October interview.

In November, Boyd was referred to the Tennessee General Assembly, the state’s legislature, for further action after the judicial conduct board said she violated the conditions of a suspension order. Under state law, judges can be referred to the legislature after receiving two public reprimands.

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A new judge is appointed in the case of a Memphis judge indicted on coercion, harassment charges