Ohio Judge Orders Man To Get Vaccinated As Condition Of His Probation
August 13, 2021
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A Hamilton County judge ordered a Cincinnati, Ohio, man to get the COVID-19 shot as a condition of his probation, WCPO reports.
Judge Christopher Wagner required Brandon Rutherford to be vaccinated within 60 days or face the possibility of prison time. Although it’s not required at the Hamilton County Courthouse, Rutherford wore a mask as he waited to be sentenced for a drug offense.
“I had the mask on because I heard the COVID numbers were back up,” Rutherford said.
Then, the judge asked him about his vaccination status.
“He asked me, was I vaccinated?” Rutherford said. “I told him ‘No.’ And he asked me if I planned to get vaccinated, and I told him ‘No.'”
Although he could be sent to prison, Rutherford has no intention of getting vaccinated.
“I don’t plan on getting it. I don’t want it,” he explained. “So, for him to tell me that I have to get it in order for me to not violate my probation is crazy because I’m just trying to do what I can to get off this as quickly as possible, like finding a job and everything else, but that little thing can set me back.”
Carl Lewis, Rutherford’s attorney, was shocked when the judge asked his client about being vaccinated.
“When you hear that, you’re like, ‘Whoa, I don’t think the judges are within their powers to do that,'” Lewis said.
On his client’s court papers, Lewis noticed there was a question mark next to the judge’s mandate for Rutherford to be vaccinated.
“If he truly believes that he’s within authority to order the individual to get a vaccine, then we’ll have a legal issue to address,” Lewis said.
In a statement obtained by CNN, Wagner mentioned that it isn’t unusual for judges to base their decisions on the protection of a defendant’s health.
“This defendant was in possession of fentanyl, which is deadlier than the vaccine and COVID 19,” Wagner’s statement read. “The defendant expressed no objection during the proceedings and stated no medical concerns, and his attorney did not object.”
Wagner also mentioned in the statement that his role as a judge was to “rehabilitate the defendant and protect the community.”
Lewis said that they are going to wait until the 60-day time period elapses before they request an additional hearing or officially file an opposition to the judge’s order. Lewis also said that is the first time he’s ever heard of a person being ordered to get the vaccine as a condition of their probation.
“It’s not like I’m out here getting into any more trouble or anything like that,” Rutherford said. “But because I don’t take a shot, they can send me to jail. I don’t agree with that.”
According to court records, Rutherford was sentenced to two years probation for possession of fentanyl.