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Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said on Wednesday that he will be paying the $7,000 fine that Dallas authorities gave to salon owner Shelley Luther for violating a stay-at-home order, and also volunteered to serve her 7-day jail sentence so that she could go back to work.
Patrick made the remarks after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton blasted Dallas County Judge Eric V. Moyé, who is a Democrat political activist, in a statement for abusing his power by jailing Luther for opening her business so she could feed her family.
“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,” Paxton said in a statement. “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.”
During her hearing, Luther told Moyé, “I couldn’t feed my family, and my stylists couldn’t feed their families.”
“Feeding my kids is not selfish,” Luther continued. “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.”
Patrick later responded by writing on Twitter, “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. #txlege #TexansHelpingTexans”
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. #txlege #TexansHelpingTexans https://t.co/gdtMLAHFV5
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) May 6, 2020
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a statement on Wednesday slamming the judge’s ruling:
I join the Attorney General in disagreeing with the excessive action by the Dallas Judge, putting Shelley Luther in jail for seven days. As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option. 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.
Luther’s lawyer, Warren Norred, told a local news station that Luther was jailed because she “refused to bend the knee in court.”
“I’m concerned that the judicial system in Dallas is more concerned for one perspective on the rule of law than it is the plight of working people trying to make a living,” Norred said. “Though the rule of law is cited by the court, there exists no exception for cities to the general rule that an injunction must be supported by a bond. Without an enforceable injunction, no contempt can be found. Our position is that Ms. Luther has been unlawfully arrested and jailed. I hope to obtain a writ of habeas corpus very soon. ”
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