Potential Removal of Oklahoma Judge Over Excessive Texting During Murder Trial

by Ryan Lee

An Oklahoma judge, Traci Soderstrom of the Lincoln County District, faces potential removal from her position following allegations of sending over 500 texts during a murder trial. Many of these texts, exchanged with her bailiff, contained derogatory comments about the prosecutor, commendations for the defense attorney, and even claims of a crucial witness being untruthful.

After an inquiry by the Council on Judicial Complaints, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Chief Justice, John Kane IV, advised Judge Soderstrom’s removal. His official court filing underscored that Soderstrom’s actions revealed “gross neglect of duty, gross partiality, and oppression,” emphasizing her unsuitable temperament to serve as a judge.

This isn’t the first instance of Judge Soderstrom’s controversial behavior. She came under the limelight in July when she was observed engaging with her phone for prolonged durations during the trial, even browsing social media platforms. Notably, this trial was for Khristian Tyler Martzall, accused of causing the fatal injuries to a 2-year-old, Braxton Danker. Martzall, eventually found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, was sentenced for the time he had already served. Interestingly, the child’s mother, Judith Danker, who pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse and received a 25-year sentence, was a principal witness for the prosecution.

In some of the leaked text exchanges, Soderstrom sarcastically remarked about the prosecutor’s appearance, and in others, she commented on a juror’s possible wig, a witness’s dental state, and even the attractiveness of a testifying police officer.

When questioned about her texting behavior during the trial, Judge Soderstrom responded that she merely found some of the exchanges humorous and believed her texting “probably could have waited,” failing to acknowledge the impropriety of her comments.

Security footage, as released by The Oklahoman newspaper, highlighted Soderstrom’s frequent phone engagements during critical phases of the trial held in Chandler, situated approximately 45 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

Furthermore, Chief Justice Kane’s petition included instances of Soderstrom’s past behaviors where she disparaged other legal professionals and even reprimanded a courthouse staff member.

Given these instances of misconduct, Chief Justice Kane has called for Judge Soderstrom’s removal, citing reasons like neglect of duty, partiality, and oppressive behavior in office. Should she retain her position, her tenure as judge is scheduled to conclude in January 2027.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about JudicialMisconduct

What led to the potential removal of Judge Traci Soderstrom?

Judge Traci Soderstrom is facing potential removal due to her involvement in sending over 500 texts during a murder trial. These texts included derogatory comments about the prosecutor, praises for the defense attorney, and unprofessional remarks about key witnesses and jurors. This misconduct raised serious concerns about her ability to fulfill her judicial duties impartially.

What actions have been taken against Judge Soderstrom so far?

Following an investigation by the state’s Council on Judicial Complaints, the Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, John Kane IV, recommended her removal in a court filing. Judge Soderstrom was suspended with pay pending a hearing by the Court on the Judiciary, which will ultimately decide whether she should be removed from her position.

What was the nature of Judge Soderstrom’s texts during the murder trial?

Judge Soderstrom’s texts during the murder trial included mocking comments about the prosecutor’s appearance, admiration for the defense attorney, and accusations of a key prosecution witness being untruthful. Some texts even contained inappropriate remarks about jurors and witnesses, raising concerns about her professionalism and impartiality.

Was this the first instance of controversial behavior by Judge Soderstrom?

No, this wasn’t the first instance of controversial behavior by Judge Soderstrom. Prior to this incident, she had a history of criticizing other attorneys and prosecutors, as well as berating a member of the courthouse staff. These previous actions were also cited as reasons for her potential removal from office.

What is the potential outcome for Judge Soderstrom?

If the Court on the Judiciary decides to remove Judge Soderstrom, she will lose her position as a judge. Her current term is set to end in January 2027. The outcome of the hearing will determine whether she can continue to serve in her judicial capacity or face removal due to her misconduct.

More about JudicialMisconduct

  • [Oklahoma Judge Faces Removal Over Texting During Murder Trial](insert link here)
  • [Chief Justice’s Recommendation for Judge Soderstrom’s Removal](insert link here)
  • [Details of Judge Soderstrom’s Text Messages During Trial](insert link here)
  • [Judge Soderstrom’s Previous Controversial Behavior](insert link here)
  • [Court on the Judiciary’s Role in Judge Soderstrom’s Potential Removal](insert link here)

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LegalEagle2020 October 12, 2023 - 6:07 am

soderstrom’s texting habits rly call her judgment into question, not gud!

SeriousReader_789 October 12, 2023 - 9:10 am

omg, this judge, totally unprofesh, those texts are cray cray!


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