A day after the arrest and fining of a North Texas businesswoman—who for weeks has stood as a voice defending the rights of all Texans—23 members of the State Republican Executive Committee have asked Gov. Greg Abbott to issue a pardon, an action he has thus far refused to exercise.
Yesterday, Shelley Luther—the owner of Salon A La Mode in Dallas—was fined and imprisoned by 14th District Judge Eric Moye for reopening her salon during the coronavirus shutdown and not abiding by a citation, a cease-and-desist order from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, and a temporary restraining order sought by the City of Dallas.
Abbott initially responded to the attention Luther was receiving by offering to work with her on reopening salons earlier than his original target of mid-May. On the same day as her court hearing, Abbott announced salons could reopen on May 8 with restrictions.
Shortly afterward, Judge Moye offered Luther the “keys” to reducing her sentence. Moye gave her the opportunity to apologize for being “selfish” in reopening her salon before the shelter-in-place orders expired, and asked her to agree to close until Abbott’s target date of May 8.
Luther declined, saying in part:
“[S]ir, 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.”
Luther was sentenced to seven days in jail for criminal contempt of court and seven days for civil contempt of court, both to be served concurrently. She was also fined $500 a day for the seven days she has been open, to be paid within 30 days of the court’s order, and will be fined $500 a day from May 5 until May 8.
The day Moye sentenced Luther to jail and fines for working to feed her family, 12 members of the State Republican Executive Committee issued an open letter to Abbott.
“Today, we have seen justice denied to Shelley Luther, a self-employed hairdresser, desperate to support herself and her family,” the letter reads. “We hereby call upon you, Governor Abbott, to restore justice and fairness to the State of Texas by the immediate pardon and release of Ms. Luther.”
Today, Abbott issued a statement saying he disagreed with the “excessive action” taken against Luther, but he stopped short of pardoning her.
“Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety,” Abbott said. “Surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”
Click here for the full open letter to Abbott. Concerned Texans may sign the petition below asking Abbott to issue a pardon for Luther.