A municipal court judge has been placed on unpaid leave because she's not a United States citizen. Judge Young Min Burkett was hired in March of 2015, and now, the city council has given her 90 days to become a citizen and keep her job.
According to councilwoman Lucy Rubio, who is chairman of the Municipal Court Committee, Burkett's rulings still stand. Rubio says Burkett is able to work in the US but not serve as a municipal court judge.
Rubio says someone needs to work in Nueces County for at least two years and be a qualified voter to serve. Burkett is not a qualified voter because she's not a citizen.
"She's a great lady. She's a hard worker. Very smart. Very, I mean, just great person, but because she doesn't have that qualification, you know, unfortunately, we had to tell her that she couldn't, be removed from the bench and she could not serve," Rubio says.
Rubio says it's city policy and state law, but doesn't know how human resources missed the fact that Burkett isn't a citizen. Rubio agrees with the unpaid leave, but doesn't question any of the judge's rulings.
"She's a very fair lady. I've gotten no complaints from her. Everybody that has worked with her says she's very pleasant. She's a hard working individual and would rule very fairly," Rubio says.
Rubio says the qualified voter regulation came up in the last couple weeks while the city was vetting a part-time judge applicant. After that, every judge's citizenship was checked.
Councilwoman Carolyn Vaughn isn't happy about this.
"I just think it's terrible. It's just, I am so disgusted with it," Vaughn says.
Vaughn wants to know why human resources missed this, since ultimately, it's the council that approves all municipal court judges.
"We're talking about a judge that's not a citizen of the United States and she's sitting up there ruling on our citizens. I mean, to me, that is a simple thing that should have been checked out," Vaughn says.
Rubio says Burkett will go to San Antonio to expedite her citizenship application.
The municipal court won't give us Burkett's contact information, so we've been unable to get comment from her.