OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A Lincoln County Judge, accused of texting her bailiff hundreds of times during her first murder trial, submits her response to allegations against her.
Lincoln County Judge Traci Soderstrom made national headlines after cameras caught her allegedly texting her bailiff hundreds of times during her first murder trial of a two-year-old beaten to death in June 2018.
“Those security cameras are there for security not to be spying on judges,” Tracy Schumacher, the judge’s attorney, told News 4 back in August.
Court documents reveal Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice, John Cane, wants Soderstrom taken off the bench. You can find the full petition here, under the October 10 “petition” entry.
Cane alleges Soderstrom had already made up her mind that the boyfriend of the child’s mother was innocent. The chief justice said in the messages, the 50-year-old judge allegedly mocked witnesses, jurors and prosecutors.
After the trial, security footage of her texting was leaked to the media. Soderstrom asked for the camera to be moved away, then put back, but asked for privacy boxes to be put up over her desk, instead.
“They’re able to zoom in on her handwriting on the bench,” said Schumacher.
“That’s not possible,” Sheriff Charlie Dougherty told county commissioners at an August meeting, shortly before the commissioners voted to take the black boxes down.
Online court records show the judge has submitted her response to the removal petition. You can find the document here under the second October 30 entry.
According to the documents, Judge Soderstrom said “when the security camera was initially removed, she was not aware of any publicity regarding alleged texting until the Lincoln County Sheriff, Charlie Daughtery [sic] advised [Soderstrom] he had provided the security camera footage to the District Attorney, Adam Panter, who then leaked the footage to reporter Nolan Clay” of the Oklahoman who broke the story.
“The issue is in Lincoln county. The sheriff’s office, who has control over that data, provided it to someone who provided it to the press,” said Schumacher.
Soderstrom adds DA Panter asked for the footage “under the guise of an investigation and was provided the potential evidence without a warrant, court order, or subpoena.”
According to court documents, the sheriff confirmed he often gives Panter “such potential evidence” because the district attorney is “a person of trust.”
Also in the response, Soderstrom admitted to posting on Facebook about her “bloopers” in the courtroom. In one post, she allegedly wrote about her first domestic docket, “Finally a subject I completely understand and can’t possibly screw up!”
District Attorney Adam Panter told News 4 he is unable to comment on the specifics of the allegations against Judge Soderstrom. However, he can comment on the issue as a whole.
The district attorney said after the investigation was thoroughly conducted, the Council on Judicial Complaints allowed Judge Soderstrom an opportunity to explain her conduct.
“Rather than provide valid reasons behind her conduct, she lied to the Council and refused any accountability,” DA Panter told News 4 in a statement. “Judge Soderstrom is an embarrassment to our judicial system and to the people of the State of Oklahoma and I welcome the opportunity to testify about the specifics of her egregious and unprofessional conduct that I witnessed in support of her removal.”
News 4 reached out to the Judges attorney Thursday, but were told she was unable to talk.