Top Texas officials denounce Dallas salon owner’s jail sentence for defying orders to close

Shelley Luther, owner of Salon a la Mode in Dallas, was sentenced to seven days in jail for violating orders to keep her business closed during the coronavirus pandemic. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday said the seven-day jail sentence a Dallas salon owner received for defying orders to keep her business closed was excessive — and Paxton 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,” Paxton said in a statement Wednesday, calling state district Judge Eric Moyé’s order to to jail and fine Shelley Luther “a shameful abuse of judicial discretion.”

Paxton wrote a letter to Moyé demanding he immediately release Luther. Soon after, Abbott issued a statement saying he disagreed “with the excessive action” by the judge.

“As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option,” Abbott said. “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.”