The video, made public by The Oklahoman, displays Judge Traci Soderstrom repeatedly texting and browsing Facebook for extended periods, even during critical moments of the trial such as jury selection, opening statements, and crucial testimonies.
Traci Soderstrom is facing an investigation following the release of a video showing her extensively using her cell phone during a recent murder trial involving the death of a 2-year-old boy, Braxton Danker
District Attorney Adam Panter expressed shock and disappointment over the judge’s behavior, emphasizing that jurors are prohibited from using cell phones in the courtroom to ensure their full attention is given to the presented evidence. Panter reviewed the footage and revealed that Traci Soderstrom, aged 50, had used her phone for “hours of the trial,” which ultimately resulted in a second-degree manslaughter conviction for Khristian Tyler Martzall, who beat the toddler to death in 2018.
The video revealed Traci Soderstrom texting while the victim’s mother, Judith Danker, was on the witness stand, and messages from both Traci Soderstrom and the recipient were visible on the judge’s phone, including a moving GIF. In another instance, the judge was seen searching for a GIF while another witness was testifying.
Traci Soderstrom had been sworn in as District Judge on January 9 after winning the election in November of the previous year
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the Oklahoma Council of Judicial Complaints is currently investigating the matter. Oklahoma judges are bound to an oath that requires them to act in a manner promoting public confidence in the judiciary’s independence, integrity, and impartiality.
The case is gaining significant attention, given that Traci Soderstrom’s handling of the Martzall murder trial was her first as a judge. Traci Soderstrom had instructed the jury at the outset to turn off their phones and electronic devices to ensure an uninterrupted focus on the presented evidence. However, it appears she failed to uphold the same standard herself, leading to the investigation into her conduct by the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints.