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Baton Rouge judge reportedly allowing vaccines in lieu of community service

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 5:44 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - 19th JDC Judge Fred Crifasi is reportedly offering offenders an alternative to completing community service hours, get vaccinated.

Attorney Ashley Greenhouse said Judge Crifasi gave her client the opportunity to get fully vaccinated in place of finishing the last four hours of court-ordered community service.

“He was like if you show me, we’ll reset the matter,” Greenhouse said. “If you’ll come back and show me you’re double vaccinated, fully vaccinated then I will give you credit for those hours. I think he was really careful that he was not forcing you, he was not coercing you to do it.”

The judge has reportedly offered the deal to other people appearing in his courtroom for varying amounts of mandated community service. WAFB reached out to Crifasi’s office for clarification on the deals and who all is eligible, the judge has not responded.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office supports the deals, saying he would like to see more judges offer vaccinations in lieu of community service.

“What do you want someone doing right now? Do you want them picking up trash on the side of the road or potentially donating services for good causes, or do you want someone to do something for themselves and protect others,” Moore said.

Defense Attorney Franz Borghardt said the offer helps offenders complete their requirements in a time when community service hours are difficult to come by.

“We’re now going into a time period where we are seeing an influx of Covid positive tests so the ability to do community service is also affected by the ability to do that,” Borghardt said.

He said the offer meets legal muster as the judge is not requiring the vaccine.

“It’s discretionary, it’s optional for the defendant,” he said. “If the defendant says hey, I don’t want to do this, I want to do community service, knock yourself out. If you’ve already gotten vaccinated it’s even better. I don’t think the community loses out on this one, in fact, I think there’s a strong argument the community wins.”

“Look, I think there are a lot of good things that the people can do community service for but at this particular time, I think it’s a good idea,” Moore said.

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