The Honorable Judge Carla Baldwin
Friday Judge Carla Baldwin sentenced 36-year-old Youngstown Police Officer Thomas Wisener to 10 days in the county jail and a $250 fine for a contempt charge that resulted from his mask refusal.
Court records show Wisener failed to wear a mask Feb. 23 when he was to testify as a witness in a case before visiting Judge David Fuhry.
The court’s mandate had stated that all people, regardless of vaccination status, had to wear a mask.
Individuals with a medically documented reason for preventing them from wearing the facial coverings had to let the court know.
According to municipal court documents, Judge Fuhry advised Officer Wisener Feb. 23 he was in violation of the court’s masking order and advised him the penalties were a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. A hearing was scheduled.
Officer Wisener was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt during the hearing Friday morning.
He was taken from the courtroom and to the Mahoning County jail.
The Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (OBPA) filed an appeal and motion to stay in the Seventh District Court of Appeals Friday afternoon. The release said the mask mandate interfered with Officer Wisener’s deeply held religious beliefs. The OBPA argued that the 10-day sentence was excessive. Shortly after, the Court of Appeals ordered Wisener to be released on his own recognizance.
Youngstown Police Staff Inspector Lt. Brian Butler released the following statement about Wisener’s sentence:
“Officer Wisener will face disciplinary action for being found in contempt of court. He is entitled to due process, pursuant to his collective bargaining agreement. He made a conscious decision to not follow the court’s order.”
The stay was only for the jail time, not the fine.
Wisener previously faced disciplinary action after admitting that he did not formally charge the brother of a YPD officer with OVI in 2014. He was suspended for 15 days without pay because of the incident.
The Court of Appeals will review the case.
Read the Appeals Court ruling at 21 WFMJ.