Texas attorney general: 'Outrageous' to jail salon owner for opening during lockdown

Texas attorney general: 'Outrageous' to jail salon owner for opening during lockdown
© CBS affiliate

Texas’s attorney general said Wednesday that it was “outrageous” to jail a salon owner for opening during the pandemic lockdown.

Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to Dallas County Judge Eric Moyé, condemning his order and supporting Salon À la Mode owner Shelley Luther, saying she should be “immediately” released. Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail Tuesday after defying social distancing restrictions requiring her salon to stay closed. 

“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 in a statement shared on Twitter.

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“His order is shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately,” he continued.

Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawGOP seeks Biden referendum over vaccine mandates The Memo: Biden comes out punching on COVID-19 The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Texas's near abortion ban takes effect MORE (R-Texas) also criticized the judge’s sentence, saying the “punishments are NOT just.”

“They are not reasonable,” he said. “Small-minded ‘leaders’ across the country have become drunk with power. This must end.”

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Moyé held Luther in criminal and civil contempt of court and said she had to pay $500 for every day the salon remained open despite social distancing restrictions. The judge’s decision came out the same day Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said hair salons and barbershops could reopen with modified restrictions on Friday. 

Luther, who plans to appeal, argued at the trial that she had “no choice” but to keep the salon open, so she and her stylists could “feed their families.”

"I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish," Luther said. "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 getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision but I am not going to shut the salon.”

Luther’s case first gained attention when she ripped a cease-and-desist letter that she received instructing her to close her salon and follow social distancing rules.

Texas has confirmed 34,422 cases of coronavirus, leading to at least 948 fatalities, according to the state health department.