TX Attorney General blasts judge for jailing Dallas salon owner

DALLAS, Texas -- Just a day after a Texas hair salon owner was sentenced to jail for defying a closure order, the state's top legal officer wants her released.

In a letter to state District Judge Eric Moyé, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called Shelley Luther's sentencing outrageous.

"The trial judge did not need to lock up Shelley Luther," Paxton wrote. "His order is a shameful abuse of judicial discretion, which seems like another political stunt in Dallas. He should release Ms. Luther immediately."

RELATED: Dallas salon owner who refused to close business jailed for defying order

Luther was booked in the Dallas County jail on Tuesday afternoon following a video hearing, during which she was found in contempt of court. The hearing occurred as Gov. Greg Abbott relaxed more restrictions statewide, allowing barbershops and hair salons to reopen Friday.

You can read Paxton's letter here.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also weighed in, calling Judge Moyé's sentencing excessive.

"As I have made clear through prior pronouncements, jailing Texans for non-compliance with executive orders should always be the last available option," Abbott said in a statement.

Last month, Luther was issued a citation for keeping open her Dallas salon despite state and local directives that kept nonessential businesses closed.

ORIGINAL STORY: Dallas salon owner risks business license in reopening during stay-home order

In Tuesday's hearing, Luther said she kept the salon open because she needed the money.

"I couldn't feed my family, and my stylists couldn't feed their families," Luther testified, saying she had applied for a federal loan but didn't receive it until Sunday.

Moyé said during Tuesday's hearing that he would consider levying a fine instead of jail time if Luther would apologize and not reopen until she was allowed to do so. Luther refused.

"Feeding my kids is not selfish," she told Moyé. "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."

Moyé wrote in his judgment of contempt: "The defiance of the court's order was open, flagrant and intentional." He noted that, despite being given the opportunity to apologize, Luther has "expressed no contrition, remorse or regret" for her actions.

The video above is from previous reporting.
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