City of Corpus Christi, Texas, councilmembers voted to reinstate a municipal court judge after previously suspending her for not being a U.S. citizen — a requirement for the job. The reinstatement becomes effective at the end of her 90-day suspension.
Officials suspended Judge Young Min Burkett in May when they discovered she did not meet the requirement of being a U.S. citizen, Breitbart Texas reported. After discovering what officials called an “administrative error” city council suspended the judge without pay to allow her time to complete her naturalization process.
Mayor Pro-Tem Rubio told the Associated Press that no one asked her about her citizenship during the hiring and qualification process. He also said she never attempted to deceive anyone or misrepresent her background. The City did not disclose if Judge Burkett filled out a required employment eligibility form, how she answered it, or who verified the information on the form. The Department of Homeland Security Employment Eligibility Verification form, I-9, asks, under penalty of perjury, if the applicant is a citizen, noncitizen national of the U.S., a lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work.
The Corpus Christi City Council voted 7 to 2 for reinstatement after Burkett complete her naturalization process. She became a U.S. citizen on July 5 — 51 days into her suspension, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.
The council members voted without any public debate or comments. Two members, Mayor Pro-Tem Lucy Rubio and Carolyn Vaughn, voted against reinstatement but did not say why.
Burkett began practicing as a judge in March 2015 and city officials did not discover the “administrative error” for more than two years. This raises questions about the legality of her rulings during the period where she did not have the qualifications to be a municipal court judge. Rubio reported in May that the city attorney’s office said they reviewed the circumstances and stated that rulings Judge Burkett made during her tenure remain valid and lawful.
Rubio said she was not sure if that was accurate. It is possible the rulings could be declared void ab initio (void from the beginning), or could be set aside through legal filings and voided. Breitbart Texas reached out to Rubio to see if anyone has challenged any of Burkett’s rulings.
She still does not meet one of the requirements — being a registered voter in the county. She registered to vote in Nueces County on July 10, three days after becoming a citizen. Her registration does not become active until after the 30-day statutory waiting period ends on August 10.
While the council voted to reinstate her effective August 9, she will not resume work until the completion of the suspension on August 14.