Hood County Attorney Matthew Mills has announced that his office will not prosecute those who violate certain provisions of Gov. Greg Abbott’s coronavirus executive shutdown orders.
“My duty under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 2.01, is not to convict, but to see that justice is done.” Mills said in a statement.
“Prosecuting someone for going to work and earning an honest living is manifestly unjust,” he added.
Mills told Texas Scorecard he will not prosecute because the orders obviously run contrary to numerous provisions in the Texas Constitution.
Mills recently requested an opinion from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, asking him to weigh in on the constitutionality of the specific executive orders. Paxton’s office has yet to respond.
Mills’ decision comes as Gov. Abbott’s latest executive order keeping barbershops, salons, and gyms closed has come under fire from citizens and lawmakers across Texas – with one salon owner in Dallas drawing nation-wide attention for defying the state and local shutdown orders to remain open.
Violation of the orders can carry both civil and criminal consequences—jail sentences of up to 180 days, plus fines up to $1,000. Those with professional licenses could also face penalties from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
Mills weighed in further, saying the dire predictions made a month ago simply were not correct.
“It’s time for people to get back to work,” Mills said. “While I can’t prevent someone from getting arrested, I’m not going to prosecute someone for violating these unjust and unconstitutional orders.”