Texas lieutenant governor pays fine for jailed salon owner

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said he would cover a fine owed by Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther, who is serving a seven-day jail sentence. A spokesperson later confirmed Patrick did just that, CBS DFW reports.

Luther, owner of Salon A La Mode, was sentenced on Tuesday after judge Eric Moye said she violated statewide stay-at-home orders when she reopened her business nearly two weeks ago. She also publicly tore up a cease-and-desist letter from Dallas County that ordered her to close.

Luther was ordered to pay a fine of $3,500, along with $500 for every day her salon is open until Friday, May 8. Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s new executive order from earlier this week allows businesses like salons and barber shops to reopen in the state that Friday. 

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

Patrick said on Twitter Wednesday he would cover the cost, and volunteered to be placed under house arrest so she could be released.

“7 days in jail, no bail and a $7K fine is outrageous. No surprise Texans are responding. I’m covering the $7K fine she had to pay and I volunteer to be placed under House Arrest so she can go to work and feed her kids,” Patrick tweeted.

Earlier Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called for Luther’s “immediate release,” as he believed the judge was abusing his authority and that her arrest seemed like a “political stunt.”

“I find it outrageous and out of touch that during this national pandemic, a judge, in a county that actually released hardened criminals for fear of contracting COVID-19, would jail a mother for operating her hair salon in an attempt to put food on her family’s table,” said Paxton. “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. He should release Ms. Luther immediately.”

The attorney general sent a letter to judge Moye about his concerns about her arrest and sentencing.

Paxton told CBS 11 News there’s no action he can take beyond voicing his opinion as the state’s top attorney.

“We just thought that was way over the top. It was an abuse of discretion and that the judge should not put people in jail like her who are just trying to make a living,” Paxton said.

Abbott also released a statement Wednesday saying he agrees with Paxton’s statement and letter.

The salon owner has garnered crowds of residents who supported her decision to reopen her business. Protesters could be seen Wednesday afternoon at an intersection near the Dallas County Jail, calling for her release.

A GoFundMe page that was set up for Luther has raised over $380,000. The goal was originally $250,000, but it has increased to $500,000.

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