A Lincoln County District judge is under investigation after she was caught on camera scrolling through Facebook during a murder trial. The incident has sparked a debate about courtroom etiquette and the use of electronic devices during trials.
Judge Traci Soderstrom was presiding over a seven-day murder trial involving Khristian Tyler Martzall, who was accused of fatally beating his then-girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, Braxton Danker. Security footage from a ceiling camera positioned above the judge’s bench revealed Soderstrom repeatedly checking her device throughout the trial. She was observed using her phone during crucial moments such as jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimonies. Notably, she even checked her phone during a heart-wrenching testimony from the victim’s mother, Judith Danker. The footage also caught Soderstrom browsing Facebook and sending a GIF.
District Attorney Adam Panter, who reviewed the footage following a tip-off from a courthouse employee, expressed his disappointment. He emphasized that jurors are prohibited from using cellphones in the courtroom during trials to maintain their full attention on the evidence being presented. He expressed hope that the court would adhere to the same standard expected of the jurors.
The Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints has initiated an investigation into Soderstrom’s conduct. Meanwhile, Soderstrom has adjusted the position of the ceiling security camera, an action that has raised eyebrows, with critics suggesting that the judge should be addressing her behavior rather than attempting to evade surveillance.
This incident has serious implications for courtroom conduct and the use of electronic devices during trials. It raises questions about the level of professionalism and attention that can be expected from judges, and it also highlights the need for clear rules and regulations governing the use of electronic devices in the courtroom.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of the investigation will be, but this incident is sure to have a lasting impact on courtroom etiquette and the use of electronic devices. It is likely that new rules and regulations will be implemented to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
This incident is a reminder of the importance of upholding professionalism and focus in the courtroom. It is also a reminder that the use of electronic devices in the courtroom can be a distraction and can jeopardize the integrity of the judicial process. As the investigation unfolds, it will be intriguing to see what measures are implemented to prevent such incidents in the future.