Judge resigns after being caught sending '500 texts' during the murder trial of a 2-year-old boy

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By stefan armitage

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Oklahoma judge Traci Soderstrom has agreed to resign from her position after being embroiled in a texting scandal while presiding over a murder trial involving the death of a two-year-old boy.

The shocking revelation came to light after it was discovered that Soderstrom had sent hundreds of texts from the bench, including messages that ridiculed prosecutors and contained emojis, CBS News reports.

As part of a proposed settlement agreement filed with the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary, District Judge Soderstrom has also committed to not seeking judicial office again within Oklahoma.

This decision comes following allegations of gross neglect of duty, oppression in office, lack of proper temperament, and failure to supervise her office, which could have led to her removal from the bench.

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Soderstrom is seen on her cell phone at the bench. Credit: Lincoln County District Court

In a resignation letter shared with local media, Soderstrom acknowledged her human fallibility while maintaining her commitment to upholding the Constitution. She stated: "I promised to uphold the Constitution in a fair, even-handed, and efficient manner. I believe that I have done so. However, being human, I have also faltered."

The recommendation for Soderstrom's removal was made by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Kane IV after an investigation uncovered instances where she mocked prosecutors, made inappropriate comments, and exhibited bias during the murder trial of two-year-old Braxton Danker.

Security footage published by The Oklahoman depicted Soderstrom texting extensively during critical junctures of the trial, such as jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony.

During the trial, Soderstrom's texts to her bailiff included remarks about the prosecutor "sweating through his coat" and questioning the size of their hands, praise for the defense attorney, and inquiries about whether she could applaud for the defense during their opening arguments.

Another text also saw her call a key witness a "liar".

Additionally, Soderstrom sent over 500 texts to her bailiff, with one message containing a laughing emoji in response to a crass comment made by the bailiff about the prosecutor.

Braxton Danker, two, died in 2018 after suffering a cardiac arrest and was discovered to have injuries including broken bones and open wounds all over his body.

His mother, Judi Danker, and her boyfriend Khristian Martzall, were charged with first-degree murder relating to his tragic death. Martzall was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to time served, while Danker pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse and was sentenced to 25 years.

Speaking about the judge's repeated use of her cell phone in the chambers, Chief Justice John Kane IV said, via the Guardian: "The pattern of conduct demonstrates [Soderstrom’s] gross neglect of duty, gross partiality, and oppression. The conduct further demonstrates [a] lack of temperament to serve as a judge."

Soderstrom voluntarily suspended herself in October following the emergence of the scandal.

Featured image credit: Lincoln County District Court

Judge resigns after being caught sending '500 texts' during the murder trial of a 2-year-old boy

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

Oklahoma judge Traci Soderstrom has agreed to resign from her position after being embroiled in a texting scandal while presiding over a murder trial involving the death of a two-year-old boy.

The shocking revelation came to light after it was discovered that Soderstrom had sent hundreds of texts from the bench, including messages that ridiculed prosecutors and contained emojis, CBS News reports.

As part of a proposed settlement agreement filed with the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciary, District Judge Soderstrom has also committed to not seeking judicial office again within Oklahoma.

This decision comes following allegations of gross neglect of duty, oppression in office, lack of proper temperament, and failure to supervise her office, which could have led to her removal from the bench.

size-large wp-image-1263248436
Soderstrom is seen on her cell phone at the bench. Credit: Lincoln County District Court

In a resignation letter shared with local media, Soderstrom acknowledged her human fallibility while maintaining her commitment to upholding the Constitution. She stated: "I promised to uphold the Constitution in a fair, even-handed, and efficient manner. I believe that I have done so. However, being human, I have also faltered."

The recommendation for Soderstrom's removal was made by Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Kane IV after an investigation uncovered instances where she mocked prosecutors, made inappropriate comments, and exhibited bias during the murder trial of two-year-old Braxton Danker.

Security footage published by The Oklahoman depicted Soderstrom texting extensively during critical junctures of the trial, such as jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony.

During the trial, Soderstrom's texts to her bailiff included remarks about the prosecutor "sweating through his coat" and questioning the size of their hands, praise for the defense attorney, and inquiries about whether she could applaud for the defense during their opening arguments.

Another text also saw her call a key witness a "liar".

Additionally, Soderstrom sent over 500 texts to her bailiff, with one message containing a laughing emoji in response to a crass comment made by the bailiff about the prosecutor.

Braxton Danker, two, died in 2018 after suffering a cardiac arrest and was discovered to have injuries including broken bones and open wounds all over his body.

His mother, Judi Danker, and her boyfriend Khristian Martzall, were charged with first-degree murder relating to his tragic death. Martzall was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to time served, while Danker pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse and was sentenced to 25 years.

Speaking about the judge's repeated use of her cell phone in the chambers, Chief Justice John Kane IV said, via the Guardian: "The pattern of conduct demonstrates [Soderstrom’s] gross neglect of duty, gross partiality, and oppression. The conduct further demonstrates [a] lack of temperament to serve as a judge."

Soderstrom voluntarily suspended herself in October following the emergence of the scandal.

Featured image credit: Lincoln County District Court