Legal Ethics

Judge who ordered parents to change baby's name from Messiah to Martin faces discipline case

A Tennessee judge who told the parents of a baby boy that they had to name their son Martin instead of Messiah because only Jesus Christ had “earned” the latter “title” is now facing a disciplinary case.

Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew is charged with violating legal ethics rules that require a judge to do his or her work in an impartial and competent manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, according to the Tennessean and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog (sub. req.).

The case was initiated when the parents complained about the name change. A three-member panel associated with the state’s Board of Judicial Conduct has now completed an investigatory report charging Ballew with violations of the judicial code in the Cocke County child-support case. She has 30 days to respond to the complaint, and a hearing panel will then determine whether sanctions are appropriate.

Meanwhile, another judge overturned Ballew’s ruling on the baby’s name on constitutional grounds.

See also: “Judge explains why she ordered name change for baby ‘Messiah’: Only Jesus has that title” “Baby Messiah regains moniker”

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