Tenn. judge who ordered baby's name changed cited for bias

Oct. 26, 2013 at 2:30 AM
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NEWPORT, Tenn., Oct. 26 (UPI) -- A Tennessee judge who ruled a woman could not name her child "Messiah" has been cited for religious bias by the state's Board of Judicial Conduct.

The case began when Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, Tenn., and the child's father, who was not identified, could not agree on the child's last name. Martin had settled on Messiah as her son's first name, WBIR-TV, Knoxville, reported.

Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ruled the child's name should be Martin DeShawn McCullough, incorporating both parents' last names but dropping Messiah.

"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 said at the time.

An appeals court overturned Ballew's order, saying she does not have the authority to decide the child's first name, only the last name disputed by the parents.

The baby's parents filed a complaint against Ballew, and the state board Wednesday cited her for failing to promote confidence in the judiciary or uphold the law without bias or partiality, WBIR-TV reported.

Ballew has 30 days to respond to the charges, after which the board will hold a hearing within 60 days.

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