(WatchDogReport.org) – Oklahoma Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Kane recently recommended a lower court judge be removed after being caught on camera texting and using social media during a murder trial. This decision came after a probe conducted by the Oklahoma Supreme Court Council on Judicial Complaints. According to the results, Traci Soderstrom, a District Judge, exchanged over 500 text messages with the courtroom bailiff throughout the trial.
According to the petition filed by Kane, court filing showed that Soderstrom mocked some of the prosecutors in her text messages and even laughed at the comments made by the bailiff about one of the prosecutors’ privates. The District Judge also said that a key prosecution witness was a liar and even praised the defense attorney in some of her text messages.
Soderstrom, who was elected in November 2022 and sworn in on January 9, was formally suspended with pay. She is currently waiting for the outcome of a Court hearing on the Judiciary, which will officially decide whether she will be kicked off the bench.
In the petition, the Chief Justice wrote that the pattern of conduct shows Soderstrom’s neglect of duty, oppression, and “gross partiality.” He added that the behavior shows the District Judge’s lack of “temperament” to serve this role properly.
Kane’s petition also revealed that Soderstrom’s text messages included one where she said that one prosecutor had “baby hands” and was sweating “through his coat” during the potential jurors’ questioning. In another text message, Soderstrom also described a defense attorney during the opening argument of the murder trial as “awesome,” going so far as to claim she wanted to clap for her.
When questioned by the Council on Judicial Complaints, the District Judge explained that her text messages “probably could have waited” instead of admitting that many of these comments shouldn’t have been made. She said that she only thought these were “funny.”
The trial in which Soderstrom was caught committing these misdeeds was for the murder of a 2-year-old child who was fatally beaten to death.
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