Dallas County Jail

Texas Supreme Court Orders Release Of Woman Jailed For Keeping Hair Salon Open

A Dallas woman who was jailed for defying lockdown orders to operate her hair salon business has been ordered to be released by the Texas Supreme Court after receiving an outpouring of support from various state leaders.

According to NBC News, Shelley Luther, the owner of “Salon a La Mode”, was sentenced to a week behind bars without bail and fined $7,000 for continuing to run her business despite coronavirus-related restrictions.

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On April 28, Luther was issued a temporary restraining order to cease all operations at her salon.

Facebook | Salon À la Mode

As per Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order issued on March 13, "people shall avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, or visiting gyms, massage establishments, tattoo studios, piercing studios, or cosmetology salons."

His order expired on April 30, but salons are not allowed to actually reopen until May 8.

Despite the restraining order and ongoing lockdown measures, Luther kept her business open for another seven days before she was arrested.

During a video hearing on May 5, Luther said she kept her business open because she needed the money.

Dallas County Jail

“I couldn’t feed my family, and my stylists couldn’t feed their families,” she explained, adding that she had applied for a federal loan but didn't actually receive it until Sunday.

Dallas County Judge Eric Moye found Luther in contempt of court and sentenced her to seven days in jail as well as a fine of $7,000.

The response to Luther's jailing has been overwhelmingly critical, especially from Texas leaders.

Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted the day after the hearing to call for Luther's release from jail, branding the sentencing a "misguided use of power, particularly since actual criminals have recently been released from jail in an effort to "protect them from COVID-19."

"Release [Luther] now so she can return to her family," Paxton wrote.

Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick also took to Twitter to make apparent his outrage towards Luther's jailing, and even offered to pay her fine and take over her sentence.

"7 days in jail, no bail and a $7k fine is outrageous," he wrote. "No surprise Texans are responding. I'm cover 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."

On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Abbott tweeted his statement regarding Luther's sentencing.

In the statement, he also called for the business owner's immediate release from jail, writing, “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," Abbott continued. "However, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother."

On Thursday, Abbott again took to Twitter to announce that he is eliminating jail sentencing for violating a COVID-19 executive order.

In a follow-up press release, the governor explained the modification is being applied retroactively to April 2nd, and should be applied to free Luther from jail.

"As some county judges advocate for releasing hardened criminals from jail to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is absurd to have these business owners take their place.”

Following Abbott's announcement, the Texas Supreme Court formally ordered Luther to be released from jail.

The salon owner's attorney, who is currently present at the jail where she is being held, told Fox News that it is still unclear at this point when Luther will be actually be freed, although some reports are claiming it could be as early Thursday afternoon.

h/t: NBC News, Office of the Texas Governor, Texas Supreme Court, Fox News, CBS News

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