After spending two nights in a Dallas jail, salon owner Shelley Luther was ordered to be released by the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday.
Since April 24, Luther’s business—Salon A La Mode in Dallas County—has been open, despite shelter-in-place orders from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott as well as county and city officials prohibiting hair salons and other so-called “non-essential” businesses from being open.
Luther was given a citation from local officials and a cease-and-desist order from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. When she protested Jenkins’ order as immoral and unconstitutional, the City of Dallas sued her and got Dallas District Court Judge Eric Moye to issue a temporary restraining order. Luther repeatedly said she would not close her business or pay the citation issued against her, and a movement of Texans has rallied around her as a hero standing up for individual liberty.
When Judge Moye offered her the opportunity to potentially avoid her sentence if she admitted she was selfish, apologized, and promised to keep her salon closed, she boldly refused. “Feeding my kids is not selfish,” she responded.
Moye then sentenced Luther to seven days in jail and $7,000 in fines for contempt of court for violating the temporary restraining order, resulting in a wave of grassroots support for Luther urging Abbott to intervene and pardon her case.
On Thursday morning, the Texas Supreme Court granted Luther’s release as they considered a petition for writ of habeas corpus filed by Luther’s attorneys.
The court ordered the Dallas County Sheriff to release Luther, without bond, and gave the City of Dallas until Monday at 4 p.m. to file a response to Luther’s petition, should they wish to do so. Luther’s attorneys are arguing that Moye’s TRO was invalid, she was justified in ignoring it, and therefore could not be held in contempt of court.
— Norred Law (@NorredLaw) May 7, 2020
Shortly before the order was released by the Texas Supreme Court, Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement saying he modified his previous executive orders to eliminate jail time as a punishment, saying, “This order is retroactive to April 2nd, supersedes local orders and if correctly applied should free Shelley Luther.” Additionally, he said it “may also” free Laredo beauticians Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata, who were arrested and jailed during a sting operation for providing cosmetic services.
Sources have told Texas Scorecard, however, that the Supreme Court’s order was already being prepared ahead of Abbott’s announcement and was not based on it.
Legal experts say that Abbott’s order would not have applied to Luther anyway. Former State Rep. Matt Rinaldi pointed out on Twitter that he was “doubtful” it would affect her situation, saying, “She wasn’t jailed for violation of [Abbott]’s order. She was jailed for contempt for violating Judge Moye’s order.”
— Matt Rinaldi (@MattRinaldiTX) May 7, 2020
State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R–Deer Park), one of the attorneys representing Luther, celebrated the ruling, urging Texans to “go get an illegal haircut.”
Done! Bam! Habeas Corpus granted.
Go get an illegal haircut. pic.twitter.com/O9WE4IFxDn
— ???????????????????????????? ???????????????? (@BriscoeCain) May 7, 2020
Ahead of Luther’s release, supporters gathered outside the Lew Sterrett Justice Center—where she was being held—with signs, chanting, “Eric must go;” “Clay must go”; “Open Texas Now.”
Around 2 p.m., Warren Norred—Luther’s attorney—gave a brief press announcement outside the center. “We’re very pleased the [Texas] Supreme Court at least agreed temporarily with [what] was going on and how it was done wrong,” he said.
When asked if Abbott’s order had any effect on Luther being released, Norred said, “I don’t know, but I don’t think so.”
“She was not in jail for violating the executive order,” he clarified, saying she was arrested for violating the TRO, but added that Abbott’s amendments were “certainly welcome.”
Luther, joined by her boyfriend Tim Georgeff and Norred behind her, walked outside to cheers from her supporters, who were shouting, “Shelley’s free!”
“I just want to thank all of you who I just barely met, and now you’re all my friends,” Luther said while crying. “You mean so much to me, and this would have meant nothing without you.”
News of her release made it all the way to the White House. At a press conference this afternoon, following a meeting of Gov. Abbott and President Trump, Abbott referred to his order, saying, “We shouldn’t be taking these people and putting them behind bars.”
When Abbott confirmed to Trump that included Luther, Trump replied, “Good.”