Texas salon owner Shelley Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail on Tuesday for refusing to shut down her business in accordance with stay-at-home orders
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has called for a salon owner to be released from jail as he slams the judge who locked her up for violating the state’s stay-at-home order.
Shelley Luther, the owner of Salon a la Mode in Dallas, appeared in court on Tuesday where she was sentenced to seven days behind bars and $7,000 – $500 for each day she opened her business’ doors.
Gov Greg Abbott’s started phase one of Texas reopenings last week, but did not allow salons to resume business – but that didn’t stop Luther from opening up.
Dallas County Judge Eric Moyé found Luther in criminal and civil contempt of court and told her she owed local leaders an apology.
He gave her the opportunity to admit fault and offered to commute her sentence if she apologized for ‘being selfish’, but Luther refused to admit she did anything wrong.
On Wednesday, Paxton released a statement, claiming the salon owner was ‘unjustly jailed’.
According to a statement from the attorney general’s office, Paxton sent a letter to Moyé stating that he ‘abused his authority’ by putting Luther in jail for trying to feed her family.
Dallas County Judge Eric Moyé (left) sentenced her to seven days. On Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement, claiming the salon owner was ‘unjustly jailed’ and demanded that she be freed ‘immediately’
Moyé found Luther in criminal and civil contempt of court on Tuesday. In addition to jail time, he ordered her to pay $500 to the court for every day she opened her salon. Luther pictured in court Tuesday
The Judge gave her the opportunity to admit fault and offered to commute her sentence if she apologized for ‘being selfish’ but she refused saying: ‘I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I am selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish’
‘I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table,’ Paxton said
‘I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table,’ Paxton said.
Paxton continued: ‘The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther. His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms Luther immediately.’
‘I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I am selfish because feeding my kids is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids.
‘So sir, if you think the law is more important than kids being fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I’m not going to shut the salon,’ she said before the judge.
If the salon continues to operate, the judge ordered Luther to pay $500 each day through May 8, which is when Texas will allow salons and barbershops to reopen.
‘The defiance of the court’s order was open, flagrant and intentional, Moyé wrote in his decision. ‘The defendants, although having been given an opportunity to do so, have expressed no contrition, remorse or regret for their contemptuous action.’
Luther reopened her Dallas business Salon a La Mode on April 24 and repeatedly ignored court orders to close up shop
Luther pictured holding her citation and speaking to the media after she was cited by City of Dallas officials for reopening her Salon A la Mode in Dallas, Friday April 24
Luther pictured being issued a citation by Dallas City officials on Friday April 24
A man carrying a rifle and Texas flag stands with salon owner Shelley Luther (left) and others in front of her salon on Friday April 24
Luther had received multiple citations for opening her business on April 24.
On April 24 she received a cease and desist letter from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins.
She received a court-issued temporary restraining order on April 28 mandating she close her business.
Last week on Wednesday Luther shared a Facebook Live video saying she intended to remain fully open and that it was her right to.
‘I’m still here, I’m standing for your rights and Salon A La Mode is open for business,’ she said.
On April 25 at an Open Texas rally to reopen businesses in Frisco, Texas, she ripped her cease and desist letter that was issued Friday into pieces before a cheering crowd.
Luther is one of many Texans who are rallying for the state to completely lift all closures and lockdown measures to reopen the economy. Pictured April 25 speaking at Open Texas rally in Frisco
Luther pictured speaking at an Open Texas rally in Frisco, Texas on April 25 where she ripped up the citation the state issued her for opening her salon
Luther says that her business needs to be open because her hairstylists need to work to provide for their families.
She argues that her salon is a safe and clean environment that doesn’t pose a threat in spreading COVID-19.
‘I can’t afford to not stay open, and my stylists can’t afford to stop working anymore,’ Luther said to ABC13 over the weekend.
‘We’re about to lose everything and haven’t gotten any help, so I had to make a decision.’
There have been widespread protests to lockdown measures in Texas, with hundreds calling on Gov Abbott to full open the state despite his incremental opening plan.
In Texas, there are more than 34,000 cases of COVID-19 and 946 deaths.