An Ohio man is pushing back at a judge’s order that he get a COVID-19 vaccine within two months as a condition of his probation on a felony drug charge.
Judge Christopher Wagner in Cincinnati presided over the Aug. 4 hearing for Brandon Rutherford, 21, who had pleaded guilty in June to possessing the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The judge ordered the young man, who wore a mask, get vaccinated as a condition of his probation.
"I'm not taking the vaccine," Rutherford told CNN Sunday, adding he was "kind of shocked" the judge made it a condition for his probation.
"He asked me, was I vaccinated?" Rutherford told ABC affiliate WCPO, which first reported the exchange. "I told him no. And he asked me if I planned to get vaccinated, and I told him no."
Rutherford said that's when Wagner ordered him to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot within two months.
"I don't plan on getting it. I don't want it," Rutherford told the ABC outlet. "So, for him to tell me that I have to get it in order for me to not violate my probation is crazy because 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's lawyer, Carl Lewis, told the ABC affiliate he, too, was surprised.
"When you hear that, you're like, 'Whoa, I don't think the judges are within their powers to do that,'" Lewis told the news outlet.
"If he 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 said.
“This defendant was in possession of fentanyl, which is deadlier than the vaccine and COVID 19,” Wagner said in a statement to the Associated Press.
“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.”
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