The United States is home to plenty of dumb judges but Lu Ann Ballew, a child support magistrate in rural Cocke County, Tenn., may well be the dumbest.
Last month, Ballew ruled that Jaleesa Martin and the unnamed father of an eight-month-old boy could not name the child “Messiah.” On Wednesday, another judge overruled her, reports local NBC affiliate WBIR.
The case ended up in Cocke County Chancery Court because the boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, and the father could not agree on which last name their son should have. They did agree, though, that the first name would be “Messiah.”
The father remains unnamed. His last name is apparently McCollough, though.
At a hearing, Judge Ballew took issue with the first name. She ordered that “Messiah” be changed to “Martin DeShawn McCullough,” a name which encompasses both of the parents’ last names but obviously does not include “Messiah.”
“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,” Ballew explained, according to WBIR.
Ballew’s claim is not correct, notes Above the Law. “Messiah” is not a title. In the Bible, the term means “anointed one.” The term was applied to numerous kings in the Old Testament including David and Saul.
Jeleesa Martin appealed the decision. Her attorney, Kristi Davis, noted that both parents had agreed to use the name “Messiah.” Also, Davis argued, Ballew’s decision violates the constitutional rights of the parents.
In overturning Ballew’s ruling, Chancellor Telford Forgety observed that the parents had not asked the Tennessee court system to change the child’s first name. The last name was the only contested issue.
Going forward, the baby’s name will be Messiah DeShawn McCollugh.
Judge Forgety noted that this name is mutually agreeable to both parents.
“Everybody’s just happy,” the boy’s mother told WBIR.
“This has been an interesting case,” the mother’s attorney told the station. “We, as Americans, care about our civil liberties.”
Judge Ballew offered no comment on the rejection of her decision.