Texas governor, attorney general call for release of Dallas salon owner jailed for keeping business open

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton wants salon owner released ‘immediately’

This Tuesday, May 5, 2020 booking photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff's Office shows Shelly Luther. Luther was ordered to spend a week in jail after she continued to operate her business despite being issued a citation last month for keeping open her Dallas salon due to restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Luther's hearing occurred as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott relaxed more restrictions statewide, allowing barbershops and hair salons to reopen Friday. (Dallas County Sheriff's Office via AP) (Uncredited, Dallas County Sheriff's Office)

DALLAS – Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Wednesday expressing his dissatisfaction with the jailing of Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther who was also issued a citation for violating the stay-at-home orders and reopening her business Salon A la Mode.

Luther was sent a cease and desist letter by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on April 24 ordering her to close her salon and, according to CBS Dallas, she ripped it to shreds and refused to pay a $1,000 fine.

She was subsequently ordered to spend a week in jail by a Dallas Judge after continuing to operate her business, defying the Stay Home, Work Safe orders issued by Abbott.

In a hearing Tuesday, Luther was given an option by District Judge Eric Moyé to apologize and promise not to reopen Salon A la Mode and he would “consider levying only a fine,” Dallas Morning News reported. Luther responded saying "feeding my kids is not selfish. 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.”

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton released a statement on Luther’s arrest saying he felt the judge’s order seemed like a “publicity stunt,” CBS Dallas reported. “He should release Ms. Luther immediately,” Paxton said of Moyé.

“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,” said Abbott. “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.”

Abbott announced Tuesday, just before Luther’s sentencing, that nail salons, hair salons, barbershops and other cosmetology businesses can begin opening under social distancing guidelines with limited capacity on Friday.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March. The first case confirmed in the U.S. was in mid-January and the first case confirmed in San Antonio was in mid-February.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.