JUST IN: Judge on unpaid leave after state learns she’s not a U.S. citizen

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According to reports coming out of Corpus Christi, a municipal court judge has been placed on unpaid leave after city officials learned she is not a U.S. citizen.

On Wednesday, City Councilman Rudy Garza Jr. told reporters the mishap took place because there is no question about an applicant’s citizenship on the application for appointment. Instead, the application documents merely asks the question if the applicant is legally eligible to work in the state.

Garza Jr. said it’s been verified that Young Min Burkett is legally eligible for employment in Texas. However, the state of Texas requires a judge to be a U.S. citizen, which she is not.

“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.

Burkett is on unpaid leave for 90 days to give her time to obtain citizenship, said Mayor Pro-Tem Lucy Rubio, who added that Burkett did not make any misrepresentations in seeking appointment.

According to city attorneys, her past rulings are not invalidated by her status as a non-citizen.

FROM CALLER TIMES:
The discrepancy was noticed during the process of appointing a different judge, said Garza, who serves on the municipal court committee.

City staff went back to verify that current municipal court judges were qualified voters and found Burkett was not, he said.

The application has already been changed to address the issue, Garza said.

Burkett has done well in her position, he added, and he would like to bring her back to the bench.

Several members of the municipal court committee could not be reached for comment, and City Councilman Ben Molina declined to discuss details citing it as an executive session item.

Texas statute permits governmental bodies to meet in private about personnel issues, so long as meeting agendas give a general description of items that could be discussed in executive session.

A municipal court judge appointment is a position that includes a two-year term and an annual salary of $97,935, according to city records.

Burkett was most recently appointed by the City Council to serve in that position in February, and previously, in 2015.

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