A Republican, who is responsible for signing bills passed by the Texas Legislature, canceled the jail penalty for breaching social distancing rules and released a mother being held for running her business.
Gov. Greg Abbott has criticized a Dallas County judge for imprisoning entrepreneur Shelley Luther for reopening Salon À la Mode despite the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus pandemic. After learning the Dallas mother had to work to feed her family, the governor removed imprisonment as the punishment for violating the economic shutdown.
“Throwing Texans in jail whose business is shut down through no fault of their own is wrong,” he said on Twitter. “I am eliminating jail for violating an order, retroactive to April 2, superseding local orders. Criminals should not be released to prevent COVID-19 just to put business owners in their place.”
The decision prompted the Lone Star State’s Office of the Attorney General to order Dallas County State District Judge Eric Moyé to release Luther without delay.
“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,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “Release her now so she can return to her family.”
Paxton believes detaining the woman was neither necessary nor an appropriate decision for a court to make. He questioned whether the decision was motivated by party politics.
“The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther,” he said. “His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.”
The attorney general also slammed the judge for excessive punishment.
“Locking her up is a misguided abuse of power,” he said on Twitter.
Luther thanked her supporters for standing by her during this challenging time, and hopes her victory can help other business owners who face similar circumstances due to the lockdown.
“Thank you to everyone who supported me,” she said on Facebook. “I am resting then on Hannity tonight. If anyone knows how to contact the two Laredo ladies that were jailed, I would like to get in touch, also please let me know of anyone that was fined for opening their business during the ordinance in Texas. We have a lot of good coming.”
She believes social distancing measures will need to be revisited since many other services can be offered without breaching the rules.
“Right now in Texas, you can get your teeth cleaned, buy vodka, buy CBD, get a lap dance, get fillers and Botox injections, get a massage and go tanning, get your pet groomed, order to go margaritas, get a boob job, get an abortion, and buy guns but you cannot get a haircut,” she said on Facebook. “It is way too dangerous.”