Texas governor calls for immediate release of salon owner jailed for defying coronavirus restrictions
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Wednesday called for the immediate release of a Dallas salon owner who was jailed after refusing to shut her business despite social distancing restrictions and prior warnings from the court.
Abbott said Shelly Luther should be released just one day after a Dallas judge sentenced her to seven days in jail.
“As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option,” Abbott said in a statement.
“Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother,” the governor added.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also called for Luther’s release.
Paxton called Judge Eric Moyé’s decision a “shameful abuse of judicial discretion” and suggested it was a “political stunt.”
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 6, 2020
“He should release Ms. Luther immediately,” Paxton said.
Moyé held Luther, the owner of Salon À la Mode, in criminal and civil contempt of court for refusing to comply with a restraining order issued in late April. In addition to the jail time, the judge ordered the company to pay a fine of $500 for every day the salon violated the court’s mandate for the business to stay closed.
Abbott announced Tuesday, the same day of the judge’s decision, that hair salons and barbershops would be allowed to reopen with modified restrictions on Friday.
Luther opened her salon in April in defiance of a stay-at-home order. She garnered attention after tearing a cease-and-desist letter from a Dallas County Judge to pieces. A temporary restraining order was issued against Luther on April 28 after she continued to keep her shop open.
Moyé reportedly told Luther he would consider not ordering jail time if she admitted that her actions were selfish and apologized to the officials she defied, but Luther responded by arguing that it is “not selfish” to continue working to feed her children.