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Judge vacates order for man to get COVID vaccine

CINCINNATI — On Tuesday, a Hamilton County judge vacated his four-week-old court order requiring a man to get the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of his probation.

The defendant, Brandon Rutherford, said he's not going to get vaccinated and that it was a violation of his rights to face the threat of being jailed for not getting the vaccine within 60 days.

"I'm certainly not going to make a martyr out of you by incarcerating you" for not getting vaccinated, Judge Christopher Wagner told Rutherford Tuesday during a court hearing.

Rutherford's attorney, Carl Lewis, argued in court that Wagner didn't have the authority to order anyone to get the vaccine, especially as a condition of community control, another term for probation.

"Your authority, Your Honor, is not unlimited," Lewis told Wagner. "The community control condition must reasonably relate to doing justice, rehabilitating the offender and ensuring good behavior. Mr. Rutherford's argument is this honorable court does not have the power, the authority or the discretion to order him to be vaccinated."

On Tuesday, Wagner continued questioning why Rutherford refused to get vaccinated and implied Rutherford showed poor judgment sharing his concerns about Wagner's court order with the WCPO 9 I-Team and other news media.

"Quite frankly, Mr. Rutherford, as I said, it's (the court order) not to make an example out of anybody," Wagner told Rutherford. "Certainly it's not to put the scarlet letter on anybody either, but you kind of did this one on your own."

Rutherford, who is on probation for felony drug possession, insisted that he will take advantage of opportunities to find work and not violate the conditions of his community control.

"I'm happy now," Rutherford told the I-Team Tuesday after his court hearing. "I don't have to live with that over my back or in fear anymore."

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