Two Ohio judges have ordered defendants to get COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of their probation or face prison time, the New York Times reported.
Franklin County Judge Richard A. Frye on June 22 gave probation to an offender who pleaded guilty to drugs and firearms offenses and ordered him to get vaccinated within 30 days or face 36 months in prison.
Judge Christopher A. Wagner on Aug. 4 told a convicted drug offender, Brandon Rutherford, that as part of his release on probation, he must receive the vaccination within 60 days.
“I don’t plan on getting it. I don’t want it,” Rutherford told WCPO 9 News. “So, for him to tell me that I have to get it in order for me to not violate my probation is crazy…”
“There is certainly a legitimate concern around ordering someone to do something that pertains to their bodily autonomy,” David J. Carey, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio told the Times.”They need to have a compelling reason to have to do so.”
“Judges do have a lot of leeway in imposing conditions on behavior while on probation. But that leeway is not unlimited,” Carey said, according to the Aug. 9 article.
Companies across the nation are setting mandates on employees and customers. Federal government employees are required to have the COVID-19 vaccine or get tested regularly. State and local government entities are also creating their own guidelines, the newspaper noted.
Michael Benza, a senior instructor of Case Western’s School of Law, said, “I think the problem for this type of order is if the defendant would challenge it, I think there is a significant chance that the order would be found to be improper. It is a compulsion for a medical procedure.”