Judge Resigns After Sending Wild Text Messages About Genitals During Murder Trial

Traci Soderstrom

Lincoln County District Judge Traci Soderstrom has tendered her resignation following revelations of inappropriate conduct during a murder trial, including sending over 500 text messages.

Some of the text messages contained crass remarks about the district attorney and prosecutors involved in the case.

Soderstrom’s resignation came just before the commencement of her trial, scheduled to begin on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, as per court records.

In her resignation letter, she cited her commitment to upholding the Constitution but acknowledged her human fallibility.

“I promised to uphold the Constitution in a fair, even-handed, and efficient manner,” Soderstrom wrote, according to CBS News. “I believe that I have done so. However, being human, I have also faltered.”

During a press conference, Soderstrom admitted to the impropriety of texting during the trial, stating, “I texted during a trial. It doesn’t matter if it was a traffic case, divorce case, or first-degree murder case. I texted during a trial, and that was inappropriate.”

An investigation revealed that Soderstrom was not fully attentive during the trial and seemingly formed a premature opinion about the defendant’s innocence.

The trial in question involved Khristian Marzall, charged with first-degree murder in the death of 2-year-old Braxton Danker in May 2018.

Despite Soderstrom’s assertion of impartiality, her conduct during the trial raised significant concerns.

In addition to the text messages, a judicial complaint outlined several other alleged misdeeds by Soderstrom, including forcing male attorneys to take pictures in a pink chair, accusing certain attorneys of incompetence, and displaying bias against the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office.

In one text message to the bailiff, Soderstrom wrote that the jury was going to “hate” Assistant District Attorney Ryan Stephenson. The bailiff in turn made crass remark about the prosecutor’s genitals and the judge replied with a laughing emoji.

The controversy surrounding Soderstrom erupted when a video of Marzall’s trial, spanning 51 minutes, revealed her extensive use of a phone during court proceedings. Among the exchanges in the texts between Soderstrom and her bailiff Angela Miller, were derogatory remarks about prosecutors, expressions of admiration for the defense attorney, and inappropriate comments about witnesses and jurors.

Soderstrom’s actions were deemed highly irregular and called into question her judicial impartiality.

Elected in November 2022 and assuming the bench in January 2023, Soderstrom’s tenure has been marked by controversy and ultimately culminated in her resignation amidst mounting scrutiny over her conduct during the murder trial.