Hamilton County, Ohio – On August 4, Common Pleas Judge Chris Wagner ordered 21-year-old Brandon Rutherford to get a vaccine within two months – or face jail time.
Rutherford pleaded guilty to possession of a fentanyl-related compound, a low-level felony, and as one of the conditions of his probation Wagner told him he must get a COVID-19 vaccination within 60 days.
“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.”
Wagner told Rutherford that he could be sent to state prison for up to 18 months if the conditions of his probation are violated.
Rutherford said he was “kind of shocked” when the judge told him he had to get vaccinated as a condition of his probation. He told CNN he doesn’t plan on getting the vaccine despite the judge’s order.
Rutherford’s lawyer, Carl Lewis, did not challenge Wagner’s order. Lewis said he expects Wagner won’t take any action if Rutherford doesn’t get vaccinated.
When questioned about the order, Wagner told the Enquirer that a court’s responsibility is to rehabilitate a defendant and protect the community. Judges, he said, “make decisions regarding a defendant’s physical and mental health all the time, including ordering drug, alcohol and mental health treatment.”
“This defendant was in possession of fentanyl, which is deadlier than the vaccine and COVID 19,” Wagner said. “The defendant expressed no objection during the proceedings and stated no medical concerns, and his attorney did not object.”
No further hearings have been scheduled in Rutherford’s case.