The Cocke County judge who ordered a baby's name be changed from Messiah is denying the charges against her, saying she did not violate the judicial code of conduct.
Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew had until Monday to respond to the charges by the state board of judicial conduct. The board said Ballew acted illegally when she ordered the parents of Messiah Deshawn Martin to change the baby's first name.
The board argued Ballew was biased in her decision.
In her response submitted Monday, Ballew admitted to most of the court proceedings leading to the citation, but she stood by her statement that Messiah is a title, a title earned only by Jesus Christ.
She denied the citation that she violated a code on conduct. Ballew also asked any formal hearings for her case be held in Jefferson County.
(WBIR) An East Tennessee judge who initially refused to allow a baby be named "Messiah" has until today to respond to charges against her.
The Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct filed a formal report against Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew in Cocke County in October.
Ballew ordered in August that a baby's name be changed from "Messiah." She said "Messiah" was a title held only by Jesus Christ. She said this case was the first time she had ordered a first name change. The judge maintains the decision was best for the child, especially if he grows up in a county with a large Christian population.
Another judge later overturned Ballew's ruling, saying it did not follow the constitution. The baby's parents also filed a complaint against Ballew with the state's board of judicial conduct.
The state's board's charges accuse Ballew of not promoting confidence in the judiciary or upholding the law without bias or partiality through her actions. Once Ballew responds the board will hold a hearing on the case within 60 days.
Ballew serves as the 4th Judicial District of Tennessee for the following counties: Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier.