Oklahoma Judge Traci Soderstrom is at risk of losing her job after she was caught exchanging 500 text messages with the bailiff during a murder trial. The incident, which was caught on courtroom cameras, showed Soderstrom, 50, presiding over a murder trial that began on June 7, continuously texting with the bailiff from her cell phone concealed in her lap, out of the view of others in the courtroom.
Soderstrom, who was presiding over a trial of a man accused in the fatal beating of a 2-year-old, reportedly sent messages mocking the prosecutor, jurors and witnesses in the case.
The incident came to public attention in July 2023 when The Oklahoman published courtroom security footage and reported that it showed Judge Soderstrom texting and scrolling social media during a murder trial. According to the New York Times, in response to the public backlash, Soderstrom reportedly asked the camera be moved from the original position.
In light of the judge’s seemingly questionable conduct, on Tuesday, October 10, in a court petition, the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, M. John Kane IV, recommended the removal of Soderstrom, who took the bench in January 2023.
Netizens react as Oklahoma Judge Traci Soderstrom’s text exchange during murder trial is exposed
Oklahoma Judge Traci Soderstrom flippantly texting the bailiff while presiding over a grave murder trial involving a toddler’s death has sparked disbelief online, prompting a social media user to comment “The justice system is one big fat circus.”
During the trial that began on June 7, Soderstrom, who ironically asked the jurors to turn off their phones to “allow you to concentrate on the evidence without interruption, ” was seen on camera scrolling through social media and continuously texting the bailiff.
In a court filing, Chief Justice Kane, who insisted on the dismissal of the Oklahoma Judge wrote that Soderstrom’s texts included mocking the prosecutor saying he was “sweating through his coat” and asking, “Why does he have baby hands?”
The Judge reportedly went on to praise the defense attorney and even objectified a police officer calling them “pretty.” The texts also included deriding a juror speculating whether they were wearing a wig.
“Look at that hairline,” she wrote. The bailiff later wrote back: “OMG. LOL.”
Judge Soderstrom, who was presiding over a trial of Khristian Tyler Martzall accused of beating his girlfriend’s son to death, even mocked the proceedings as she believed the mother was responsible for the crime. She wrote:
“State just couldn’t accept that a mom could kill their kid, so they went after the next person available.”
The string of bizarre texts from a Judge has stunned netizens who expressed disbelief and disgust over the apparent dereliction of duty.
Judge Traci Soderstrom’s attorney responds to the texting scandal
In a court petition, the chief justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court M. John Kane IV also slammed Traci Soderstrom and questioned her competency as a judge while recommending that she should step down from her position.
“The pattern of conduct demonstrates Respondent’s (Soderstrom’s) gross neglect of duty, gross partiality and oppression,” Chief Justice John Kane IV wrote. “The conduct further demonstrates Respondent’s (Soderstrom’s) lack of temperament to serve as a judge.”
In response to the petition, Judge Soderstrom’s lawyer, Tracy Schumacher told Oklahoman:
“Judge Soderstrom takes these allegations very seriously. We are in the process of requesting the entire record from the Council on Judicial Complaints so that she can respond appropriately.”
The New York Times reported a hearing on the court filing to remove Judge Traci Soderstrom has been set for November 15 and 16 in the Oklahoma Supreme Court.