UPDATE (3:32 PM) – Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement Wednesday calling for the immediate release of Shelly Luther after being “unjustly jailed for working to feed her family.”
Paxton wrote the Dallas County Judge saying he abused his power by putting Luther in jail.
“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,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelly Luther. His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stun in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.”
UPDATE (12:45 P.M.) – Gov. Abbott released a statement on Wednesday afternoon calling the jailing of Shelley Luther “excessive” and that incarceration should “always be the last available option.”
Luther is sentenced to 7 days in jail along with a $7,000 fine for not shutting down her hair salon in accordance with the social distancing restrictions.
Luther had previously been cited by the county for refusing to cooperate. Here is Abbott’s full statement:
|“I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days. As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option. 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.”|
TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Texas State Representative Matt Schaefer threw his support behind a Dallas salon owner who was jailed for operating illegally in violation of coronavirus restrictions.
“#shellyluther took brave and legitimate action to challenge an unjust and unconstitutional order. [AG Ken Paxton] should reverse his position and support her and the rule of law.”
Schaefer (R-Tyler) called the order “unjust and unconstitutional” and said that Luther’s actions were “brave and legitimate.”
Under current restrictions set forth by Gov. Abbott in his executive order, salons were not permitted to open until May 8 and only at 25% capacity. During a press conference announcing the opening date on Tuesday, Abbott did not address the Luther case.
Luther was given a choice by District Judge Eric Moye: Apologize for “selfish actions” or be sent to jail.
“Your actions were selfish, putting your own interests ahead of the community in which you live,” said Moye. “You disrespected the orders of the state, the county and this city.”
Luther fired back, refusing to shut down the salon and saying “feeding my kids is not selfish.”
“I have hairstylists that are going hungry because they would 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 had previously been cited for keeping the salon open, despite city and state orders for it to be closed.
She will also be forced to pay a $7,000 fine, totaling up to $1,000 a day that it was kept open.
Schaefer has been a vocal critic of Abbott’s handling of the crisis, saying that he is not opening the economy quickly enough.
Despite the criticism from both political flanks, Gov. Abbott has been viewed in a relatively positive light by Texas residents.
A UT Tyler/Dallas Morning News poll found that 86% of Republicans, as well as nearly half of Democrats, approved of Abbott’s maneuvering of the pandemic.