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Salon owner gets week in jail for refusing to close business during stay-at-home orders

Salon owner jailed for violating shutdown
Salon owner jailed for violating shutdown 01:33

A Dallas salon owner who has refused to close her shop despite multiple court orders has now been sentenced to a week in jail. A judge on Tuesday called Shelley Luther's open defiance of social distancing orders "flagrant and intentional" and said she felt no "remorse or regret" for her actions. 

According to court documents, Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail for violating a temporary restraining order to close her business and fined $500 each to the county's criminal and civil courts for every day the salon remained open. She openly violated the governor's stay-at-home order, an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus

Luther, the owner of Salon À la Mode and Hot Mess Enterprises, gained national attention for opening her salon in April after her city and county ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in March. She has said she opposed the stay-at-home order for financial reasons and publicly ripped up one of the court orders at a protest with more than 100 others. 

Judge Eric V Moyé, of the 14th Civil District Court of Dallas, told Luther on Tuesday that he would consider a lighter sentence if she admitted that she was wrong and apologized to the elected officials whose orders she violated.

"I have much respect for this court and laws. I have never been in this position before and it's not someplace that I want to be," Luther responded, according to CBS Dallas Fort Worth. "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 am not going to shut the salon."

Shelley Luther
Salon owner Shelley Luther outside her Salon A la Mode in Dallas on April 24, 2020.  LM Otero / AP

Court documents state that Luther's employees violated social distancing guidelines by running the salon and interacting with customers. Luther insists her employees are entitled to their income and that she has kept her salon clean and safe for patrons.

Luther was taken into custody and her attorney said he would immediately appeal the decision.

Supporters of Luther recently started a GoFundMe, which has raised more than $280,000 to support her and her employees. They called her an "American Hero that has decided to resist tyranny."

Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday both publicly disagreed with the sentence. Paxton called for her immediate release and called her jailing "outrageous."

"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," Paxton wrote in a letter to Judge Moyé.

Abbott agreed, calling the judge's decision "excessive."

"As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, 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; however, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother," Abbott said in a statement.

Abbott on Tuesday said hair salons, barbershops and nail salons can reopen on Friday, with proper social distancing guidelines. He also recommended that both employees and customers wear face masks.

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