A truck driver in Oregon said that he was arrested for refusing to wear a mask.
John Kulbeth had a scheduled court appearance in Sweet Home, Oregon on Wednesday morning for failure to stop for a school bus.
Kulbeth said that when he arrived with his 6-year-old daughter, a court clerk told him that he needed to put on a mask. Mindful of social distancing, Kulbeth and his daughter sat at the back of the courtroom, far away from others.
When Judge Larry Blake entered the courtroom and saw Kulbeth at the back of the room without a mask, “he proceeded to chew me out, tell me if I was not going to wear a mask he was going to hold me in contempt of court and have me lodged at Linn County Jail,” Kulbeth told the Statesman.
Kulbeth said that he cannot wear a mask due to breathing problems. Kulbeth told the Statesman that his breathing problems were so severe they forced him to be medically discharged from the Army.
Kulbeth let the judge know that he could not wear a mask and told the judge that he’d leave the courtroom.
When Kulbeth reached his car, Sweet Home Police Chief Jeff Lynn approached Kulbeth and told him that the judge had ordered his arrest.
Kulbeth was arrested and spent 2 hours in a holding cell. Once released, he was informed his original case was moved to July 22. He was also told that when he returns he needs to bring a mask or a letter from his doctor, or he’d face 30 days in jail for contempt of court.
Seven counties in Oregon require face coverings, but Marion County — where Sweet Home is located — is not one of the counties that require face masks.
The Sweet Home Director of Courts said that city administrators had decided to require face masks in municipal courts.
Kulbeth said that he never received anything in writing that warned him he would need to wear a mask.
Sweet Home Court administrators said that Kulbeth wasn’t arrested for refusing to wear a mask; he was arrested for leaving the courtroom without his case being completed; however, he believes he was jailed for refusing to wear a mask.
“I was just amazed,” Kulbeth told the Statesman. “Like, really, in Sweet Home to have somebody arrested in court for not wearing a mask.”