Judge tells drug suspect he can avoid prison time by getting vaccinated

U.S. and World

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A judge told an Ohio man he could either serve probation for drug possession or 18 months in prison. The decision comes down to whether the man decides to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Brandon Rutherford, 20, is essentially being charged with being associated with somebody who had fentanyl-related compounds.

Rutherford’s attorney, Carl Lewis, says he’s never heard of a defendant being asked to make a choice like this in the 31 years he’s been practicing law.

“When we received the judge’s statement, and ‘I order you to be vaccinated within 60 days,’ you could have heard a pin drop in the courtroom,” said Lewis. “Every lawyer, the court reporter, everyone stopped and said, ‘Did I just hear that right?’”

The judge’s logic is that Rutherford was found with fentanyl, which he said is more deadly than COVID-19 — and certainly the vaccine.

Rutherford says he doesn’t plan on getting the vaccine and the judge shouldn’t have put him in this position.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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