Judge in Baby Messiah case could be disciplined

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- An East Tennessee magistrate who ordered a baby's name be changed from Messiah to Martin has been charged with violating the state's Code of Judicial Conduct.

Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the name change at a court hearing in Newport on Aug. 8. In both her written order and a later television interview, Ballew said she changed the child's name because "'Messiah' is a title held only by Jesus Christ."

That decision was overturned the following month.

On Wednesday, a panel of the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct filed formal charges against Ballew.

Among other things, the Code of Judicial Conduct requires that judges perform all duties without bias or prejudice based on religion.

Ballew has 30 days to answer the charges.


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