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Judge to Defendant: Get Vaccinated or Go to Jail

Ohio man doesn't plan to comply
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2021 12:45 PM CDT
Ohio Judge Orders Man to Get COVID Vaccine
Rutherford's attorney says the vaccine order seems to be unprecedented.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, FILE)

(Newser) – A lawyer for an Ohio man says he was "taken aback" by a judge's order for his client to get a COVID vaccine as part of his probation conditions. Judge Christopher Wagner told Brandon Rutherford he could face jail time if he fails to get vaccinated within 60 days of his Aug. 4 court appearance, but Rutherford says he doesn't plan to comply, CNN reports. "I don't think the judges are within their powers to do that," attorney Carl Lewis tells Lex 18. He says his client does not wish to be vaccinated and predicts that the order is "going to be dropped or it’s going to be a boatload of litigation to say, ‘You have violated this young man’s rights.'" Rutherford, 21, was sentenced to two years' probation on drug charges.

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During the hearing, Wagner asked him if he was vaccinated. "I'm just a judge, not a doctor, but I think the vaccine's a lot safer than fentanyl, which is what you had in your pocket," the judge told Rutherford, according to a court transcript. "You're going to maintain employment. You're not going to be around a firearm. I'm going to order you, within the next two months, to get a vaccine and show that to the probation office." In a statement explaining the order, Wagner said, "the defendant expressed no objection during the proceedings and stated no medical concerns, and his attorney did not object," per WXIX. He said it is common for judges to make decisions regarding a defendant's mental or physical health. "We will have to see what happens now that the defendant is expressing opposition," he said. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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