On Sunday, February 11, 2024, Law & Crime reported that an Oklahoma judge resigned after facing scrutiny for her behavior during a murder trial.

Traci Soderstrom served as the Lincoln County District Judge for the trial of Khristian Marzall, who was accused of first-degree murder in the 2018 death of a toddler. However, an investigation later discovered that Soderstrom sent over 500 texts to her bailiff during the trial, missing key testimony and displaying a lack of impartiality.

Some of the messages showed Soderstrom criticizing the prosecutors. She commented on one prosecutor’s appearance and referred to another as “arrogant.” Soderstrom also seemed to admire the defense attorney. Court documents revealed 12 examples of exchanged texts that occurred throughout the trial between the judge and bailiff.

In the texts, Soderstrom expressed boredom during witness testimony and questions whether a juror was wearing a wig. She was also attracted to an officer who testified. Most concerning was a text where Soderstrom indicated she believed Marzall was innocent of murder before the trial concluded.

A video of the trial later surfaced showing Soderstrom on her phone for much of the proceedings. This raised doubts about whether she was adequately paying attention and fulfilling her duties. As a result, an official complaint was filed against Soderstrom listing numerous accusations of improper behavior and lack of impartiality.

Instead of facing a disciplinary trial, Soderstrom opted to resign from her position. In a resignation letter, she acknowledged making mistakes but maintained she performed her role impartially. However, the leaked texts and video evidence painted a conflicting picture that seemingly proved otherwise.

With Soderstrom’s departure, it remains unknown how her actions and inattentiveness during the murder trial of Marzall may impact the case going forward.

 

 

Source: Law & Crime