OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — An Oklahoma Supreme Court justice wants a judge removed after an investigation found 500 text messages sent to her bailiff during her first murder trial, and possibly her last. The alleged text messages appear to be making fun of prosecutors, witnesses, and jurors.
As first reported by The Oklahoman, Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Kane said he wants Lincoln County Judge Traci Soderstrom taken off the bench. You can find the full petition here, under the Oct. 10 entry.
Kane said Soderstrom, 50, texted her bailiff, Angela Miller, during a June trial in the case of a 2-year-old beaten to death in 2018.
Kane said Soderstrom seemed to have her mind made up, believing the boyfriend of the child’s mother was innocent.
The judge texted her bailiff, saying that prosecutors “just couldn’t accept that a mom could kill their kid so they went after the next person available.” The judge added, “Can I please scream liar liar?”
The text messages also appear to be mocking prosecutors asking, “Why does he have baby hands? …They are so weird looking,” while adding he was “sweating through his coat.”
In addition, the judge allegedly made crass comments about one of the prosecutor’s genitals.
In other messages, they reportedly accused witnesses of not having teeth, being constipated, and a juror of wearing a wig.
Meanwhile, Soderstrom allegedly called a testifying officer “pretty” and told Miller, “I could look at him all day.”
The judge also described the defense attorney as “awesome,” asking, “Can I clap for her?”
Kane’s harshest criticism is the judge’s apparent influence on the trial’s outcome, never giving the jurors an opportunity to consider second-degree murder. They ultimately handed down a manslaughter conviction and recommended he be released with time served. The child’s mother is serving a 25-year sentence for enabling child abuse.
After the trial, a video of Soderstrom on her phone was leaked to the media. She then had cameras moved away, then put back, but asked for black privacy boxes be put up over her desk.
“They’re able to zoom in on her handwriting on the bench,” Tracy Schumacher, Soderstrom’s attorney, told News 2’s sister station, KFOR, in August.
“That’s not possible,” said Sheriff Charlie Dougherty.
During an August meeting, the county commissioners voted to remove the privacy boxes.
Several calls to Schumacher for comment were never returned.
News 2’s sister station called Miller, who hung up, and then called back twice, but got a dial tone. KFOR also called the district attorney’s office three times, but never heard back.
Kane and the Council on Judicial Complaints declined to comment.