Shelley Luther, a Dallas County salon owner, reopened her salon on April 24th, even though stay-at-home orders were still in place. She justified opening her “non-essential” business because it was essential to her, she needed to feed her family and other stylists at her salon were in the same boat.
Dallas County sent a citation, a cease-and-desist order, and a restraining order demanding that Luther close her shop until the stay-at-home orders were lifted. But she refused to close her salon, so police arrested her and jailed her without bail.
It is hard to believe that such a thing would happen in Texas, but it did.
After her arrest, she appeared in Judge Eric Moye’s court. Moye, a Harvard-trained lawyer, and a Democrat activist, seemed to want to punish Luther and make her grovel for defying the lockdown orders of “elected officials.” Luther stood her ground in the courtroom, indicating that she was willing to pay $7,000 fine and to do the 7 days of jail time, but she would not close her salon, stating that the stylists that work there need to feed their kids, too.
Luther owns the salon, but the other stylists are independent stylists who must earn their living, too. As Luther’s lawyer said, they only get paid when they do haircuts.
After the altercation with Judge Moye in court, Luther’s attorney Warren Norred appeared on Tucker Carlson to discuss what happened to his client, calling Judge Moye a “tiny tyrant” demanding that Luther “apologize” for being selfish and putting her community at risk. The judge gave her the option to avoid jail if she would apologize (grovel) to the elected officials that mandated the lockdown and keep her salon closed until the lockdown is lifted.
Norred laid out the case that Luther was unlawfully jailed: “Though the rule of law is cited by the court, there exists no exception for cities to the general rule that an injunction must be supported by a bond. Without an enforceable injunction, no contempt can be found. Our position is that Ms. Luther has been unlawfully arrested and jailed. I hope to obtain a writ of habeas corpus very soon.”
COVID-19 and jails
By now, it is well known that many states, including Texas, have released thousands of inmates from jail and prison to avoid spreading the coronavirus to prisoners and employees, but Judge Moye thinks that, in the case of Luther and her “defiance,” it is worth the risk.
In a state where over 1300 prisoners and 400 employees have been positive for COVID-19, over a thousand inmates in Dallas County jails have been released into the general population to protect them and slow the spread of the virus in prisons and jails. But Judge Moye thinks that Luther deserves to be exposed to the virus while actual criminals are allowed to go free.
Luther has support
Many people support Luther’s effort to stay open and are showing it by sending money to a GoFundMe page started by Rick Page.
Over 12,000 people have donated close to $500,000 to Luther in a generous show of support.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton chided Judge Moye for his overbearing ruling and called for Luther’s immediate release saying:
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. The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther. His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, agreed with Paxton stating:
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.
The Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, said he would pay Luther’s fine and go under house arrest so that she could return to her salon.
Luther should have all of our support in her stand against petty dictates and dictators.
Watch video of Judge Moye and Luther:
Good news in Shelley Luther’s case. After spending two days in jail, Luther was released by order of the Supreme Court of Texas.
Governor Abbott modified his executive order to remove jail time as a punishment for violating them. Abbott explained:
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen.”
The Texas Supreme court then ordered Luther’s release.
Watch Luther thank everyone for their support: