PONTIAC, Mich. (WWJ) – An investigation into possible threats against an Oakland County judge in a case that attracted national attention.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Karen McDonald has been under fire from groups opposing vaccinations for her decision to jail a mom who refused to follow a court order to vaccinate her son.

“So, I mean, if she can get away with this, the (expletive) has got to died. The (expletive) has got to die,” a man’s voice is heard saying on the video posted online.

The threat is part of a 42 second post on YouTube headlined, “Why Judge Karen McDonald Must Die A Painful Death,” reports WWJ’s Sandra McNeill.

“The Sheriff’s Department came to us and asked for some guidance as far as what the case law and the statutory definition of a threat is,” says Paul Walton with the prosecutor’s office. “We pulled the statute and we pulled the case law and we discussed with them the nature of the threat and the constitutional definition has to be a true threat.”

“As horrific as some of the hate speech is out there,” says Walton. “It does butt up against the First Amendment right as well, and the US Supreme Court is always doing this balancing test – state law, at this point, is the true threat definition; it has to be a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence.”

The judge sent Ferndale mom Rebecca Bredow to jail for refusing a court order to vaccinate her 9-year-old son. He was vaccinated while she was behind bars for seven days — with the father getting temporary custody.

Bredow had agreed with the order “on November 30,” said Judge McDonald said from the bench. “Your attorney signed that order.”

Michigan is one of 17 states that allows for medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions from vaccines. The couple was on the same page with deciding not to vaccinate their son, but their relationship eventually took a turn for the worse and they divorced. Still, things were amicable between the two, until their child custody case transferred from Washtenaw County to Oakland County.


He says the case is still under investigation.

  1. This is what the kind of abusive, aggressive language leaders in the anti-vaccine movement have been using leads to. When they accuse the judge of being a criminal and violating her duty, or of poisoning a child, they legitimate threats and aggressiveness from their followers. And they have been.

    Unless they are, in fact, intending a “will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest”, they need to call out this behavior.

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