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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

No Messiahs Allowed|in This Judge’s Court

(CN) - A Tennessee judge who ordered a baby's name changed from Messiah to Martin, saying Messiah was reserved for Jesus Christ, has been cited by the state Board of Judicial Conduct for letting her religion interfere with her duty.

Cocked County Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the boy's name changed despite objections from both parents, who were disputing what the child's name should be. Cocke County is in eastern Tennessee, east of Knoxville.

"The word 'messiah' is a title, and it's a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ," Ballew told WBIR-TV.

The parents appealed and a court chancellor found Ballew's ruling unconstitutional.

The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct last week found "reasonable cause" to believe Ballew "committed judicial offenses."

The parents changed their son's name back to Messiah.

The Cocke County seat, Newton, is about 100 miles from Dayton, Tenn., site of the Scopes trial of 1925, in which a high school teacher was prosecuted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

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