Judge under investigation for using phone during murder trial
Judge Traci Soderstrom is under investigation after security footage revealed her continuous use of her phone during a seven-day murder trial, reported The Associated Press.
District Attorney Adam Panter expressed his shock and disappointment, stating, “It is both shocking and disappointing. Jurors are banned from using cellphones in the courtroom during trials because we expect them to give their full time and attention to the evidence being presented. I would expect and hope the Court would hold itself to the same standard required of the jurors, regardless of the type of case.”
The footage showed Judge Soderstrom checking her phone repeatedly during jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony. She even used her phone during a tearful testimony from the victim’s mother. The footage also captured her browsing Facebook and sending a GIF.
Panter further expressed his concern, explaining, “Jurors are expected to be fully engaged and attentive during a trial. It’s disheartening to see a judge in the same courtroom not giving her full attention to the proceedings.”
The Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints has launched an investigation into Judge Soderstrom’s conduct. It was noted that the judge moved the position of the ceiling security camera after the incident, raising concerns about her response to the matter.
Judge Soderstrom, who was elected in November and sworn in on January 9, had claimed to have an extensive legal background. She became a lawyer in 2003 and practiced various areas of law. However, her behavior during this trial has raised questions about her professionalism and commitment to upholding the integrity of the court.
Meanwhile, Khristian Tyler Martzall, the accused in the murder trial, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter, with prosecutors originally seeking first-degree murder charges. Martzall has been in jail since his arrest in 2018, and the jury recommended time served for his punishment.
The investigation into Judge Soderstrom’s conduct highlights the importance of maintaining strict courtroom protocols and ensuring that everyone involved, including the judge, adheres to these standards. The ultimate goal is to guarantee a fair and unbiased trial for all parties involved.