An Ohio judge has ordered a man
to get the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine as a requirement for his continued freedom. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Wagner commanded 21-year-old Brandon Rutherford to get inoculated as part of his probation. Rutherford, who was convicted of fentanyl possession, said he and his attorney will fight against Wagner's order.
Wagner told Rutherford during an Aug. 4 sentencing hearing: "I'm going to order you, within the next two months, to get a [COVID-19] vaccine and show that to the probation office." The magistrate continued: "I'm just a judge, not a doctor, but I think the [COVID-19] vaccine's a lot safer than fentanyl which is what you had in your pocket." Rutherford will face up to 18 months in state prison if he refuses to get vaccinated, the New York Post reported
Rutherford wore a face mask
during his sentencing hearing. As he stood in front of Wagner to await his sentence, the judge asked him why he had a face covering on. He told the judge that he was not yet inoculated and he had no plans to do so. "I had the mask on because I heard the [COVID-19 case] numbers were back up," Rutherford later told Cincinnati news channel WCPO 9
According to the 21-year-old, he has been avoiding trouble and wants to find work. However, he is worried that he will be jailed for refusing to get inoculated against COVID-19 and that a prison record will make it more difficult for him to start anew.
"I don't plan on getting it, [and] I don't want it. So for him to tell me that I have to get it in order for me not to violate my probation is crazy. 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," Rutherford told WCPO 9
Wagner's order clearly disregarded Rutherford's freedom to choose
Wagner defended his decision to order Rutherford's inoculation in a statement. He said that it was his responsibility as a judge to "rehabilitate the defendant and protect the community." Wagner continued: "Judges make decisions regularly regarding a defendant's physical and mental health – such as ordering drug, alcohol and mental health treatment."
Rutherford meanwhile reiterated that he does not plan on obeying Wagner's "unfair" order, adding that he and his attorney plan to fight back. Attorney Carl Lewis, who represented Rutherford, said it was the first time he heard a Hamilton County judge order someone to get vaccinated. (Related: Divorce court judge orders ex couple to get coronavirus vaccine
"When you hear that, you're like, 'I don't think the judges are within their powers to do that,'" Lewis said of Wagner's order. The attorney continued: "If [Wagner] 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 was not the only lawyer who shared the same sentiment about Wagner's order. Speaking to the Daily Mail
, New England-based attorney Norman Pattis called the vaccination order "frankly terrifying" and "an abuse of the [court's] discretion." According to Pattis, the Hamilton County judge mandating Rutherford's vaccination went beyond the magistrate's power.
"It's not like I'm out here getting into any more trouble or anything like that. But because I don't take a [COVID-19] shot, they can send me to jail. I don't agree with that," Rutherford said. Requests for comment sent by WCPO 9
to Wagner's staff about the court order were left unanswered.
Other judges have followed Wagner's footsteps
However, Wagner was not the first judge who ordered a convicted individual to get vaccinated as part of their probation. Judge Richard Frye of Franklin County also ordered a number of defendants
to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Ohio Capital Journal mentioned the case
of Cameron Stringer, who pleaded guilty for one count of improperly handling firearms in a motor vehicle.
Frye sentenced Stringer to two years of probation. He mandated that Stringer submit to random drug testing, avoid further trouble with the law and return a stolen firearm to its rightful owner. Frye also ordered Stringer to get a COVID-19 vaccine within 30 days and show proof of inoculation to the county's probation office. (Related: Judge in Ohio essentially sentences man to DEATH by covid vaccine for minor weapons violation
The Franklin County magistrate defended his decision to order COVID-19 vaccination in an interview, saying that he just wants the defendants "to be safe in the community." Frye said: "I think it's a reasonable condition when we're telling people to get employed and be out in the community." However, he did not speculate about defendants objecting to vaccination for religious, philosophical or medical reasons.
has more articles about people being forced to get vaccinated against their will.