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Former Tennessee Magistrate Censured in ‘Messiah’ Baby Name Case

Tennessee Magistrate Censured The former Tennessee child support magistrate who changed a baby boy’s name from Messiah to Martin was censured on Monday for religious bias.

Last summer, Lu Ann Ballew ordered a couple to change their baby’s name to Martin because the name Messiah was reserved for Jesus Christ.

A six-member panel of the Tennessee Judicial Board of Conduct found Ballew guilty of violating judicial canons because she based the ruling off of her own religious beliefs.

The panel consisted of four judges, one lawyer and a layperson and a unanimous decision was reached in roughly 90 minutes.

Ballew had already been fired in January.

The parents of baby Messiah were originally in court to settle issues regarding the child’s last name, but they were surprised when Ballew returned with a ruling that ordered them to change their son’s first name.

Ballew’s legal team argued that she was simply acting in the child’s best interest because the name “Messiah” could possibly make life difficult for him.

Tennessee magistrate censured for changing baby name from Messiah “A child’s only protection for a detrimental name lies within the state,” her attorneys wrote in a statement although they could not be reached by the Associated Press for comment.

Despite the legal team’s argument, Messiah is a popular name in the United States and was the 387th most popular name for boys in 2012. The number of baby boys named Messiah has doubled since 2011.

Board of Judicial Conduct Disciplinary Counsel Tim Discenza said that Ballew still has the right to appeal the censure to the Tennessee Supreme Court, but the possibility of overturning the decision isn’t likely.

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