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State Supreme Court Frees Salon Owner and Lt. Governor Paid Her Fine

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The release of Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther was ordered by the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday, May 7, 2020, after she was jailed for defying a statewide COVID-19 stay-at-home order. The ruling came immediately after Texas Governor Greg Abbott amended his executive order with respect to business closures in an effort to prevent jail terms as a possible enforcement measures. Luther’s sentence was for seven days, in addition to a fine of $500 for each day that her business was open in defiance of the order. The fine was confirmed to have been paid Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.

State Supreme Court Frees Salon Owner and Lt. Governor Paid Her Fine

Photo: envato elements

In a statement by Governor Abbott, he expressed that confinement was “nonsensical, and I will not allow it,” where business owners had their means of employment shut down, resulting in some taking matters into their own hands. Luther had been sentenced in a Dallas County court on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. The owner of Salon A La Mode, she had violated the statewide orders to stay at home and reopened her business almost two weeks ago. On the following day, a number of prominent Republican representatives came to her defense. These included not only the Texas Lt. Governor, but also U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and state Attorney General Ken Paxton. Patrick took to Twitter on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, stating he would cover the cost of her fine as well as volunteer to do her time under house arrest in order that she may be released.

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State Supreme Court Frees Salon Owner and Lt. Governor Paid Her Fine

Photo: envato elements

In her contempt of court hearing, Dallas County Judge Eric Moye had offered Luther the punishment of only a fine if she apologized for her actions. She refused. In return, the judge said Luther’s disobedience of the statewide orders were “selfish,” and that she was “putting your own interest ahead of those in the community” in which she lived. Luther replied, “I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish [for re-opening the salon], because feeding my kids is not selfish.”

The day following her sentencing, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called for her “immediate release,” stating that he felt the judge abused his authority in what appeared to be a “political stunt.” Furthermore, he added that it was “outrageous” that during such unprecedented times, “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.”

State Supreme Court Frees Salon Owner and Lt. Governor Paid Her Fine

Photo: envato elements

In Thursday’s statement from Governor Abbott, he that the changes to his order “should free Shelley Luther” and safeguard others from a similar fate. The San Antonio Express-News reported that back in April, two women of Latina descent were arrested and jailed in Laredo for similarly defying the statewide lockdown orders and running nail salons from their respective homes. There were no state officials intervening in their cases. In the meantime, a GoFundMe page was established to aid Luther in her circumstances, which has raised more than $380,000. Its initial goal was $250K, but this has since increased to $500K.