Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday sent a letter urging a Dallas judge to free a woman he sent to jail a day earlier after she refused to apologize for keeping her hair salon open in violation of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Soon after, Abbott said he agreed with his attorney general on the matter. Later Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick vowed to pay her fines — $500 for each day the salon was open — and volunteered to go under house arrest on the condition she be freed.
Paxton, whose office said Shelly Luther was “unjustly jailed” in a release, told Dallas County State District Judge Eric Moyé that he had abused his discretion and emphasized that the woman was keeping her business open in order to feed her family.
“As a mother, Ms. Luther wanted to feed her children,” Paxton said in his letter. “As a small business owner, she wanted to help her employees feed their children. Needless to say, these are laudable goals that warrant the exercise of enforcement discretion.”
Luther was given three choices by the judge: She could offer an apology for selfishness, pay a fine and shutdown until Friday, or serve jail time.