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Judge accused of scrolling on phone for hours during murder trial of 2-year-old while mom cried on stand

Judge accused of scrolling on phone for hours during murder trial of 2-year-old while mom cried on stand

An investigation has been launched following the release of the footage

A judge is coming under fire after she was caught on camera scrolling through her phone whilst the mother of a murdered child gave testimony.

Judge Traci Soderstrom was presiding over the pretrial, jury selection, and opening statements relating to the 2018 death of two-year-old Braxton Danker, who tragically died after suffering cardiac arrest.

The little boy was found with injuries all over his body, including broken bones and open wounds.

The child's mother, Judi Danker, and her boyfriend, Khristian Martzall, were charged with first degree murder.

It was during the testimony of Danker that Judge Soderstrom was caught on a security camera scrolling on her phone, footage of which has since been released by The Oklahoman:

A camera situated behind the Oklahoma District 23 judge showed her typing messages and at one point, even looking for GIFs.

Danker began crying during her testimony and reached over for a tissue, causing Judge Soderstrom to look up from her phone.

This came after Judge Soderstrom had ordered the jury to turn off their electronic devices so they could focus on the evidence being presented in the June 10 proceeding.

The Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints has opened an investigation into Soderstrom’s actions after the council received the video from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

Judge Soderstrom was elected to her position in November 2022, and sworn into office in January of this year to serve the district that includes Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties.

Judge Traci Soderstrom was filmed using her phone during a trial.
The Oklahoman

Both District Attorney Adam Panter and defense attorney Velia Lopez have denied seeing Judge Soderstrom use her phone.

Lopez even credited the judge with doing a 'great job'.

Panter said that when he examined the footage, he found Judge Soderstrom had spent 'hours' texting and scrolling through her phone.

He said: "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."

Judge Soderstrom was seen sending messages and at one point, searching for a GIF.
The Oklahoman

Although the Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct doesn't specifically mention anything about using cell phones during a trial, it does state: "A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary."

Ultimately, the woman testifying was sentenced to 25 years in prison for enabling or permitting child abuse.

Her partner, Martzall was convicted of second-degree manslaughter at the trial.

UNILAD have contacted the Lincoln County Sheriff and the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints for comment.

Featured Image Credit: The Oklahoman/YouTube

Topics: US News, Crime