BY: Ivan Pereira, ABC News
(DALLAS) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for the release of a Dallas salon owner who was jailed for repeatedly defying his executive order to shut down her business due to coronavirus precautions.
Dallas Civil District Judge Eric Moyé criticized Shelly Luther on Tuesday for keeping her business, Salon a la Mode, open last week despite a citation, a cease and desist letter and a restraining order. During the hearing, Luther admitted that her business was still open partially, and the judge scolded her for blatantly disobeying the law meant to protect residents. Moyé ordered her to be jailed for a week for her violations.
“The rule of law governs us. People cannot take it upon themselves to determine what they will and will not do,” he said during the hearing.
Abbott had nonessential businesses close all of April as the pandemic spread throughout the state. Last weekend, he lifted restrictions on select businesses, including restaurants and malls, and on Tuesday he said hair and nail salons will be allowed to open on Friday with restrictions on the number of customers.
Luther, who has participated in several protests against the governor’s orders and publically ripped the cease and desist letter, kept her salon open for more than a week after she was issued the restraining order. She told the judge she didn’t regret her actions and would continue to keep her salon open.
“If you think the law’s more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision, but I am not going to shut the salon,” she said.
In addition to the jail time Judge Moyé, who had to tell Luther to stop interrupting him, ordered her to pay a fine of at least $3,500.
On Wednesday Abbott called the judge’s ruling “excessive” and said jail time should only be used for the most excessive violations of his orders. He called for her release.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Luther’s attorney didn’t immediately return messages for comment to ABC News. He told reporters he would appeal the decision.
Dallas is the second-highest Texas county with COVID cases, 4,623, according to data from the state and the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The county has seen 121 deaths, according to the data.
State health officials said Wednesday there were signs the virus was spreading as there were 34,422 cases across Texas, which was a 1,053 jump from Tuesday, and 948 COVID fatalities — an increase of 42 from Tuesday.
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