Judge Under Fire For Playing On Phone During Murder Trial

A newly appointed judge in Oklahoma is being investigated after she was reportedly seen on video texting, going through social media, and looking for GIFs while the court was in session.

During the trial of a man who was suspected of contributing to the murder of his girlfriend’s son, it’s been reported that Lincoln County District Judge Traci Soderstrom, who is 50 years old, was found texting for lengthy periods of time. 

According to the AP, during the evidence of a murder trial in Oklahoma involving the death of a 2-year-old child, surveillance footage revealed that the judge presiding over the case was observed texting and surfing through Facebook and other social media sites during the trial. 

Following a report from courtroom staff, District Attorney Adam Panter was made aware of the alleged usage of a phone during the proceeding. Panter’s reaction to the judge’s actions left him astonished and unsettled after he saw the footage from the surveillance cameras installed inside the courthouse.

In order to guarantee that jurors are concentrating their whole attention on the evidence that is being given, the court requires that they put away their telephones throughout the proceedings. According to the Associated Press, Panter noted that regardless of the nature of the case, she “would expect and hope” that the court would hold itself to the same standard as was expected of the jurors.

Sheriff Charlie Dougherty provided the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints access to the trial’s surveillance tape. This council is the state entity responsible for examining complaints of misconduct committed by Oklahoma judges. 

Due to the confidential nature of the council’s investigations, the council director, Taylor Henderson, was unable to disclose whether or not the state is undertaking an inquiry into the allegations of misconduct made against Soderstrom.