Judge Lu Ann Ballew Fired For Ruling Against Baby Name 'Messiah'

| by Allison Geller

The Tennessee judge who ordered a couple change their baby’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin” has been fired, according to court officials.

Last August, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew of Cocke County in eastern Tennessee made headlines when she ordered the proud parents change the name of their 7-month-old to "Martin DeShawn McCullough."

"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," Judge Ballew said.

"Labeling this child 'Messiah' places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfill," she further argued.

But mother Jaleesa Martin and father Jawaan McCullough, who liked the sound of the name “Messiah,” didn’t accept the judge’s ruling.

"Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else," Martin said at the time.

Martin appealed the decision, which she called “ridiculous.” It took Chancellor Telford E. Forgety 30 minutes to overturn Ballew’s ruling—and to find that she had acted unconstitutionally.

In October, a three-member investigative panel found there was “reasonable cause to believe (Ballew) has committed judicial offenses,” citing her for religious bias.

As of last Friday, Judge Ballew is no longer on the bench. O. Duane Slone, presiding judge of Tennessee's fourth judicial district, terminated her appointment.

A hearing by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct is scheduled for March 3, despite the fact the Ballew lost her appointment.

Martin and McCullough are not alone in wanting to dub their child Messiah. According to the Social Security Administration, there were 762 applications for the boy’s name in 2012.

Sources: WBIR, CBS, Reuters (2)