NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — Lincoln County Judge Traci Soderstrom, who was accused of texting her bailiff during a murder trial, has decided to resign from her position, according to a release sent by her attorney on Thursday afternoon.
“My core beliefs and the variables that served me well as an attorney—honesty, preparation, principles and passion, are better utilized as an advocate and not an arbiter,” reads the closing paragraph of Soderstrom’s statement. “The actions necessary to disseminate the information and required to hold each person and elected official accountable for their actions require more than a trial before the Judiciary. For these reasons, I have decided to resign from my position as District Judge for Judicial District 23.”
Soderstrom was sworn in on Jan. 9, 2023, after being elected in November. Her four-year term would have expired in January 2027.
News 4 initially reported on Soderstrom back in October, when Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Kane called for her removal from the bench after she allegedly sent over 500 text messages to her bailiff during her first murder trial in June 2023.
The text messages reportedly appeared to make fun of prosecutors, witnesses and jurors during a trial of a 2-year-old beaten to death in 2018.
Soderstrom’s full statement can be read below.
My faith, family and friends are first and foremost in my life. Directly behind these three foundational pillars is my core belief that each person is required equal justice and personal responsibility. During my career as an attorney, I developed a reputation for being brutally honest, hard-charging advocate for my clients. I have always taken great pride in being acknowledged for my preparation, principles and passion by my clients, other attorneys and the judges that I appeared before.
After almost 20 years of serving as an attorney-advocate, I had come to a point of disillusion and frustration with the public’s perception in the decline in the American judicial system. I ran for District Judge with the hope of restoring the community’s faith in that system. It was the honor of a lifetime wo win a hard-fought election to serve as a District Judge for the Lincoln and Pottawatomie Counties. When I took the judicial oath on January 9th, 2023, I promised to uphold the Constitution in a fair, even-handed and efficient manner. I promised to ensure the law and procedures were applied equally to Plaintiff and Defendant alike. In spite of resistance at nearly every turn, I believe that I have done so. However, being human, I have also faltered.
My core belief in personal responsibility requires me to publicly take responsibility for my transgressions and defend the allegations that are false. I believed the best avenue for that was with a public trial. I have stood by that decision without fear. What I found regarding the behavior of others during my time behind the closed veil of the judiciary and during preparation for my trial was nothing if not to say shocking. Manipulating the jury selection process, holding citizens without lawful authority, secret tape recordings of judicial officers, and even false threats of criminal prosecution are a small example.
My core beliefs and the variables that served me well as an attorney—honesty, preparation, principles and passion, are better utilized as an advocate and not an arbiter. The actions necessary to disseminate the information and required to hold each person and elected official accountable for their actions require more than a trial before the Judiciary. For these reasons, I have decided to resign from my position as District Judge for Judicial District 23.
According to section 4b. of the Settlement Stipulation filed on Thursday, Soderstrom is now ineligible for a future judicial position in the state of Oklahoma. The document cites Title 20, §92i of the Oklahoma Statutes, which reads in part “No one who has been removed from judicial office or who has resigned from office pending disciplinary proceedings shall qualify to file as a candidate for judicial office.”