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Ohio judge orders man to get COVID-19 shot as condition of probation

A Hamilton County judge ordered a man to get vaccinated against coronavirus as a condition of his probation on Wednesday.
Credit: WCPO/CNN Newsource

CINCINNATI — Brandon Rutherford wore a face mask Wednesday as he stood in front of a Hamilton County judge to be sentenced for his recent drug conviction.

"I had the mask on because I heard that the COVID numbers was going back up again,” he said.

As he awaited sentencing, Rutherford said Judge Christopher Wagner asked him questions.

"He asked me was I vaccinated. I told him no and he asked me do I plan on getting vaccinated. I told him no,” Rutherford said.

He says that when Judge Wagner ordered him to get a COVID vaccine shot within two months as a condition of his probation.

"I don't plan on getting it. I don't want it,” Rutherford said. “So, for him to tell me that I have to get it in order for me to not violate my probation, it's crazy because I'm just trying to do what I can to get off this as quickly as possible, finding a job and everything else. But that little thing can set me back."

Rutherford’s attorney, Carl Lewis, was standing next to him during sentencing.

"I was taken aback because again when you hear that you're like woah, I don't think the judge is within their powers to do that,” Lewis said.

Lewis said this is the first time he’s heard of a Hamilton County judge ordering someone to get the vaccine.

On Rutherford’s court papers, there is a question mark next to the judge’s order to get vaccinated.

"If he truly believes that he's within this authority and power to order the individual to get a vaccine, then we'll have a legal issue to address."

The judge and his staff were contacted for comment but did not respond.

"It's not like I'm out here getting in any more trouble or anything like that. But because I won't take a shot that can send me to jail. I don't, I don't agree with it,” Rutherford said.