Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther has become a celebrated figure for many Republican lawmakers around the state, culminating with a decree from the governor nullifying a jail sentence.
After opening up Salon À La Mode in North Dallas for two days despite a statewide stay-at-home order, city officials sued Luther. And after receiving a cease and desist letter from County Judge Clay Jenkins, Luther took her cause to an Open Texas rally in front of Frisco City Hall and tore up the notice.
On Tuesday, Luther was in front of Judge Eric Moyé. He offered her a chance to apologize and admit wrongdoing in order to avoid any jail time. Luther remained defiant. “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 down the salon.”
After Moyé’s ruling which included a $7,000 fine and seven days in jail, Republicans around the state began their public outcry.
Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately released a letter chastising the ruling and called for Moyé to reconsider the fine and sentence. In another statement he called the ruling a “shameful use of judicial discretion.” Governor Greg Abbott also reiterated his support for Paxton, and went to Sean Hannity’s show Thursday evening to further criticize the ruling.
At a press conference for the “Texans Back to Work Task Force,” Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told reporters that he would be paying Luther’s fine. Republicans around the state including Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Dan Crenshaw (TX-2) were vocal about their support for Luter. Crenshaw even tweeted that “small-minded ‘leaders’ across the country have become drunk with power.”
Though Luther maintains she opened the salon out of necessity to feed her family (and for her stylists to do the same), she also testified that she received a loan from the federal government though it didn’t arrive until Sunday according to ABC-13.
For Justin Nelson, who challenged Ken Paxton for Attorney General in 2018, Paxton’s call for Luther’s release is just another inconsistent guidance from a party leader who claims to favor local control.
“Abbott and Paxton are criticizing local official for their own orders,” said Nelson. “They are trying to blame somebody else for the horrendous failings of the federal government and Donald Trump.”
In 2015, Paxton was indicted by a federal grand jury for felony securities fraud. He has remained out on bail since.
As Texas continues to reopen businesses including hair salons this Friday, cities and counties that have seen increases in COVID-19 cases are bracing for even more of a dramatic surge. Abbott himself seemed to acknowledge this in a leaked audio with Texas officials.
Twelve civil district judges for Dallas County responded to Paxton’s urging to reverse Moyé’s order, by noting that is a violation of the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.
Early Thursday morning, Abbott tweeted that he was “eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders.”As of this Thursday afternoon, Luther is out of jail. When Abbott announced that she was a free woman during a meeting at the White House, President Trump remarked, “good.”
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