A judge in Texas who was put on unpaid leave in May after officials discovered she wasn't a US citizen has become a citizen. Corpus Christi Municipal Court Judge Young Min Burkett was sworn in as a citizen on Friday, which makes her eligible to vote and serve as a judge, the AP reports. The oath was administered by a federal judge. Burkett is from South Korea and had been a permanent legal resident. Per USA Today, she was removed from the bench in May after city officials discovered her status. Although Corpus Christi rules require municipal judges to be US citizens, the job application Burkett filled out only asked if she was eligible for employment in Texas. She says she never tried to deceive or misrepresent her background.
Burkett applied for expedited review of her US citizenship request after being removed from the bench, which helped her become a citizen in just 51 days (she had 90 days to do so). "I'm very grateful it was processed in a short period of time," she tells USA Today. To become a US citizen, Burkett gave up her South Korean citizenship (the two countries don't allow dual citizenship). "It was hard for me to give up my [Korean] citizenship, but I always wanted to be a US citizen," she says. The Corpus Christi City Council will decide whether Burkett should be reinstated as a judge, and one of the council members tells KRISTV that Burkett may need to jump through some hoops to get her job back. "We need to ... have her reapply, along with whomever else wants to seek that position," he says. "With Ms. Burkett being out, other judges have had to step in and take on some of that workload." (Read more judge stories.)