City officials in Texas temporarily removed a municipal judge from the bench Wednesday after learning that she never received U.S. citizenship after becoming a legal permanent resident in 2007.
When the city council discovered that her original application to the bench didn’t indicate whether or not she was a citizen, they placed Young Min Burkett, a judge in Corpus Christi, Texas, on unpaid leave.
Despite a city ordinance that requires municipal judges to be U.S. citizens, the South Korea native originally took her job because there wasn’t a question about citizenship status on her application for appointment, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported. Instead, the application only asked whether the candidate was eligible for legal employment in the state, according to City Councilman Rudy Garza Jr.
“The error was a city error and we don’t feel Judge Burkett was insincere or did anything in her application or interview that led to any dishonesty on her part,” Garza said Wednesday.
Corpus Christi normally includes on applications for appointees a question about whether the candidate is a “qualified voter.” That question wasn’t included in some recent municipal court judge appointments, and when officials noticed the oversight, they discovered that Burkett wasn’t eligible to vote. (RELATED: Federal Judge Finds Texas Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Minority Voters)
Burkett’s husband, Nathan Burkett, told the Caller-Times in an email that his wife has been a lawful permanent resident since 2007 and never tried to misrepresent her citizenship status.
“The job posting specified only the ability to work in the U.S.,” he wrote. “She has never made a representation that she is a citizen.”
Burkett was most recently appointed to Corpus Christi municipal bench in February, and before that, in 2015. She has been licensed to practice law in Texas since 2007, the same year she was granted legal permanent residence, according to state bar records.
Burkett’s unpaid leave extends for 90 days in order to give her time to obtain citizenship, according to Corpus Christi Mayor Pro Tempore Lucy Rubio. City attorneys have “determined that past rulings of this judge are not invalidated by this status,” the mayor added.
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