CINCINNATI — Hamilton County Judge Christopher Wagner defended ordering a probationer to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot by comparing the order to court-mandated drug treatment and mental health counseling as conditions of probation.
WCPO TV You Tube Video
In a written statement to WCPO –
“The court’s responsibility when issuing a community control sanction is to rehabilitate the defendant and protect the community,” wrote in a statement emailed Friday to the WCPO 9 I-Team. “Judges make decisions regularly regarding a defendant’s physical and mental health, such as ordering drug, alcohol, and mental health treatment.”
As part of his probation Wagner ordered Brandon Rutherford (21) to get vaccinated within 60 days as a condition of his probation for a drug offense.
Wagner’s office also provided a copy of the transcript of Rutherford’s hearing.
“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,” Wagner told Rutherford, according to the 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. Okay?”
According to the transcript, Wagner threatened to send Rutherford to state prison for up to 18 months if he violated conditions of his probation.
Rutherford told WCPO it was unfair to force him to get a shot that he doesn’t want or believe he needs.
Rutherford told WCPO –
“Because I don’t take a shot they can send me to jail? I don’t agree with that,” Rutherford said. “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 (COVID vaccine) can set me back.”