A Tennessee magistrate has been replaced months after ordering a baby’s name changed from Messiah to Martin because she believes Messiah is a title held only by Jesus Christ.
Lu Ann Ballew was a child support magistrate, serving at the pleasure of the chief judge of Tennessee’s fourth judicial district.
Judge Duane Slone terminated Ballew on Friday and appointed a new magistrate.
He did not return calls seeking comment, and his order does not explain why he ended Ballew’s appointment.
Ballew, an attorney, still faces a March 3 hearing on accusations that she violated Tennessee’s Code of Judicial Conduct, according to WBIR.
Among other things, the code requires judges to perform all duties without bias or prejudice based on religion.
Ballew’s August name change decision was overturned at a September hearing.
Ballew ordered the name change during a paternity hearing in Newport on August 8.
At the time, the parents were disputing the 8-month-old baby’s surname.
The boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, hoped to keep the name she had given the boy- Messiah Deshawn Martin – and father, Jawaan McCullough, wanted the baby to bear his last name.
Ballew surprised both parents by ordering the baby’s name be changed to Martin Deshawn McCullough, saying the name Messiah was not in the baby’s best interest.
Her written order said: ‘Messiah is a title that is held only by Jesus Christ.’
‘Labeling this child “Messiah” places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfill,’ the order said.
Ballew further stated that ‘it is highly likely that he will offend many Cocke County citizens by calling himself “Messiah”.
That decision was overturned in Cocke County Chancery Court the following month, with the judge saying that Ballew’s ruling violated the U.S. Constitution.