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TN Judge: Baby Can Keep 'Messiah' As First Name

7:05 PM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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A 7-month-old baby is named "Messiah DeShawn Martin" but it could be permanently changed to "Martin DeShawn McCullough."
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  • (WBIR-Newport) A judge reversed a ruling Wednesday ordering a Newport mother to change her 8-month-old's name from "Messiah."

    Jaleesa Martin and the father of Messiah could not agree on a last name, which is how they ended up at a child support hearing in Cocke County Chancery Court last month.

    Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the baby's name be "Martin DeShawn McCullough." His name included both parents' last names but left out Messiah.

    Previous Story: Tennessee judge orders baby's name be changed from '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," explained Judge Ballew.

    Jeleesa Martin appealed Ballew's decision. Her attorney said they appealed for two reasons: the mother and the father agreed on the first name, and the decision was unconstitutional.

    "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," said Martin.

    It took the judge 30 minutes to overturn the magistrate's ruling during an appeals hearing Wednesday. The judge said the court's purpose was to decide the last name of the child, not determine the child's first name.

    Martin said she's relieved.

    "I'm just happy - I really don't have nothing to say. I'm just glad it's over with," said Martin after the ruling.

    The 8-month-old's name is now Messiah DeShawn McCollugh. McCollough is the father's name.

    We'll have more coverage on this hearing on 10News at Noon and wbir.com.

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