TEXAS – Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick today said he would take the sentence of a Texas woman who was arrested and jailed by a judge for operating a hair salon illegally during the COVID-19 pandemic. “7 days in jail, no bail and a $7K fine is outrageous. No surprise Texans are responding. I’m covering the $7K fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be placed under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids,” Patrick said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also called for her immediate release, “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.”
This weekend, a Dallas salon owner who was arrested for opening her place of business during the state’s stay-at-home order which shut down non-essential businesses had to stand before Judge Eric Moye via video conference this week. Shelly Luther said financial desperation is what motivated her to defy the court’s cease and desist order which led to her arrest on Friday. Judge Moye ordered Jenkins to pay a $500 fine for each of the 7 days she opened her salon and she was charged for criminal and civil contempt of court, calling her selfish and demanding that she owed city officials an apology. Luther disagreed with the judge after learning she will be sentenced to 7 days in jail.
“I have much respect for this court and laws,” Luther replied to Moye. “I have never been in this position before and it’s not someplace that I want to be. But I have to disagree with you sir, when you say that I’m selfish because feeding my kids — is not selfish. I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d 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’m not going to shut the salon.”
Barbershops and salons will be allowed to reopen in Texas on May 8th. Luther’s total fines were $7,000.
Luther’s husband, Tim Georgeff said during the hearing, the judge appeared angry over Governor Abbott’s decision to reopen barber shops this week and used the opportunity to make an example out of her.
“It was not a fair trial,” Georgeff said. “The judge had made up his mind before it started and didn’t give her lawyer a chance to speak.” During the trial, Abbot held a press conference and opened salons ten days earlier than his original estimate.
“He was very aggravated by the fact that Governor Abbott made that decision,” he said. “He wanted to belittle Shelly, he had a lack of tact and judicial temperament and that if she admitted she was a selfish, horrible person who just wanted to make some extra money.”
7 days in jail, no bail and a $7K fine is outrageous. No surprise Texans are responding. I’m covering the $7K fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be placed under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids. #txlege #TexansHelpingTexans https://t.co/gdtMLAHFV5
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) May 6, 2020