Texas Governor and Attorney General defend salon owner who violated business restrictions

Coronavirus

DALLAS (AP) – A hair salon owner in Texas was ordered to spend a week in jail after she continued to operate her business despite restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shelley Luther was booked in the Dallas County jail on Tuesday afternoon following a video hearing, during which she was found in contempt of court. The hearing occurred as Gov. Greg Abbott relaxed more restrictions statewide, allowing barbershops and hair salons to reopen Friday.

Last month, Luther was issued a citation for keeping open her Dallas salon despite state and local directives that kept nonessential businesses closed.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Luther said she kept the salon open because she needed the money.

“I couldn’t feed my family, and my stylists couldn’t feed their families,” Luther testified, saying she had applied for a federal loan but didn’t receive it until Sunday.

Dallas County Judge Eric Moye said during Tuesday’s hearing that he would consider levying a fine instead of jail time if Luther would apologize and not reopen until she was allowed to do so. Luther refused.

“Feeding my kids is not selfish,” she told Moye. “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.”

Moye wrote in his judgment of contempt: “The defiance of the court’s order was open, flagrant and intentional.” He noted that despite being given the opportunity to apologize Luther has “expressed no contrition, remorse or regret” for her actions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter Wednesday to the judge, calling on him to release Luther from jail. Abbott, a fellow Republican, issued a statement calling for the same.

“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.

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