Ohio judge orders man to get vaccinated as part of probation

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CINCINNATI (AP) — A Common Pleas Judge in Cincinnati has ordered a man being sentenced on a felony drug charge to get vaccinated against COVID-19 within two months as a condition of his probation.

Judge Christopher Wagner’s office emailed a statement on Friday along with a transcript of Wednesday’s hearing involving Brandon Rutherford, 21. Rutherford pleaded guilty in June to possessing the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

“This defendant was in possession of fentanyl, which is deadlier than the vaccine and COVID 19,” Wagner’s statement said. “The defendant expressed no objection during the proceedings and stated no medical concerns, and his attorney did not object. We will have to see what happens now that the defendant is expressing opposition.”

Wagner told Rutherford he presumed he hadn’t been vaccinated because he was wearing a mask, which Rutherford confirmed.

When asked, Rutherford told the judge he wasn’t worried about the vaccine. “I just never went to get it,” he said.

Rutherford’s attorney, Carl Lewis, told WCPO-TV, which first reported the sentence, he had never heard of a judge issuing such an order.

“If he truly believes that he’s within his authority to order the individual to get a vaccine, then we’ll have some legal issues,” Lewis said.

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This story has been updated to correct the name of the person who pleaded guilty. Rutherford pleaded guilty, not Wagner.

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