Last August, Child Support Judge Lu Ann Ballew took matters into her own hands when two parents with a dispute over their child’s last name appeared in her Cocke County Tennessee court. Not only did she change the child’s last name, Ballew decided to change the first name as well, because she felt the name Messiah could only belong to Jesus Christ.

“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.


Jaleesa Martin, Messiah’s mother, was shocked. Martin responded saying, “I was shocked. I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God and I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”

A month later,  Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. overturned Ballew’s decision. Citing that the lower court acted unconstitutionally.

Well, as of last week Judge Change-A-Name is out of a job.

O. Duane Slone, presiding judge of the state’s fourth judicial district, terminated Ballew’s appointment, effective last Friday, according to court documents.

Slone did not give a reason in his order, but Ballew had previously been cited by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for an inappropriate religious bias. A hearing is scheduled for March 3.

Craft wrote that it is the duty of the board to inquire into the “commission of any act calculated to reflect unfavorably upon the judiciary of the state.”

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