Charlotte Tyler
February 10, 2024

Judge resigns after texting through murder trial

After facing accusations of sending hundreds of texts during a trial involving the murder of a two-year-old, an Oklahoma judge decided to step down on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

As the AP explained, Oklahoma District Judge Traci Soderstrom agreed to resign as part of a settlement deal on allegations of oppression in office, severe negligence of duty, lack of suitable temperament, and failure to supervise her office.

“I promised to uphold the Constitution in a fair, even-handed and efficient manner,” Soderstrom said in her resignation letter given to local media, according to the outlet.

“I believe that I have done so. However, being human, I have also faltered," she added.

The Texting

According to the AP, Soderstrom allegedly sent texts ridiculing the prosecutors, which included her belief that the prosecution's witness was a liar and an emoji meant to express laughter in response to a bailiff's text about comments about the prosecutor's body.

The judge reportedly praised the defense counsel in Soderstrom's texts, as she asked, "Can I clap for her?" and referred to her as "awesome," as reported by the outlet.

News On 6 in Oklahoma reported that Oklahoma District Attorney Adam Panter said in a statement that Soderstrom was guilty of more than simply texting; he accused her of willfully obstructing the state's capacity to prosecute the case.

DA's Statement

“It is now well publicized that Judge Soderstrom spent many hours of a murder trial involving the brutal beating death of a child, glued to her cell phone on social media rather than pay attention to the evidence," Panter said.

"But what is now known, and in my opinion even more obscene, is that now we are aware from the allegations, that Judge Soderstrom actively attempted to undermine the State’s ability to successfully prosecute a child killer," he added.

"She impeded the State’s ability to appeal an incorrect ruling, resulting in the jury being unable to hear the testimony of a child abuse expert,” Panter said, according to the outlet.

The Associated Press reported that in October, Soderstrom voluntarily suspended herself from her role, but did not resign until this week.

According to the AP, the defendant in the case at issue was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter for the death of his girlfriend's son, who was two years old at the time of the murder. He was sentenced to time served.

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