The judge told Shelley Luther she didn’t have to go to jail.
“Come and get it, Judge Clay Jenkins,” she said, referring to the top county official as she threw shreds of his letter to the crowd, the Dallas Morning News reported.
As Luther faced criminal and civil contempt-of-court charges, Moyé offered her a chance to make things right: She had to admit her actions were selfish and wrong and that she would follow the law.
On each condition, Luther refused.
“I have to disagree with you, sir, when you say that I’m selfish, because feeding my kids is not selfish,” she said in court Tuesday, CBS DFW reported. “I have hair stylists that are going hungry because they’d rather feed their kids. So, sir, 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 down the salon.”
He sentenced Luther to seven days in jail.
Annette Norred, a paralegal at the law firm representing the salon owner, told The Washington Post that the court’s order was in response to a petition filed to free her.
“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court of Texas decided that the judge’s overreach needed to be corrected,” Norred said. “And we are thrilled for Shelley to be able to be back with her family and with her work family that she has sacrificed so much to support.”
The Supreme Court order came as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) escalated his criticism of the judge’s decision, which he earlier suggested was too restrictive. In a Thursday statement, he announced he was modifying his coronavirus-related executive orders in a way intended to free her early.
“Throwing Texans in jail who have had their businesses shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical, and I will not allow it to happen,” he said.
President Trump also backed Luther on Thursday, as Abbott visited the White House: “I was watching the salon owner and she looked so great, so professional, so good,” said the president, who has also expressed sympathy for protesters defying stay-at-home orders. “And she was talking about her children. She has to feed her children.”
Norred said the governor’s announcement was “wonderful, and great for people going forward.” But she said the law firm does not believe Luther’s release was connected to it.
Earlier this week, Abbott announced the state would allow hair salons and barber shops to reopen by Friday, an earlier timetable than expected after facing pressure from members of his party and business owners. A number of Texas hair salons and stylists have shown defiance, saying they are financially desperate and unable to pay bills.
Warren Norred, Luther’s attorney (and Annette Norred’s husband), said the salon would not be shutting down before Friday, even as it incurs a $500 fine for each day it violates Moyé’s order.
“She feels what she’s doing is right, and she feels as though the way to get past this is to recognize that you can’t back down,” Warren Norred said. “The judge was sending a message that we’re going to come after you with both barrels if you deign to stay open and cut hair when the king is not allowing you to.”
The fines are also minuscule in comparison to the donations that have flooded in as Luther becomes a face of nationwide, politically charged resistance to coronavirus-driven restrictions. One of several GoFundMe campaigns for her has raised more than half a million dollars.
“Shelley Luther is an American Hero that has decided to resist tyranny by opening her business against an unlawful State Executive Order,” reads the fundraiser, which stopped accepting funds Wednesday night. It adds: “She is doing what everyone else is only talking about, in a patriotic move to take back her liberty!”
Annette Norred said Thursday she is not sure exactly how Luther, who is resting at home, will use the money. But she said the salon owner is will likely put it toward legal fees and is also eager “to take care of her work family.”
Luther opened her salon almost two weeks ago, telling media outlets she couldn’t afford to stay closed. News stations reported those inside were wearing masks, and Luther was taking customers’ temperatures as they entered. Police issued her a citation for defying Abbott’s order, which did nothing. When she ripped up Jenkins’s cease-and-desist letter, too, the city of Dallas took her to court — and still she was unmoved.
“If that means I have to go to jail, I’ll go,” she told WFAA after Moyé issued the temporary restraining order last week.
Luther, although the most visibly defiant hair salon owner in Texas, is far from alone in her resistance to Abbott’s orders.
In Laredo, undercover cops nabbed two stylists who were soliciting customers for hair cuts or other services at their private homes and charged them with violating an emergency order.
Candice Weeter, co-owner of Tune Up: The Manly Salon, told The Post she decided to reopen her salon in Magnolia last week after Abbott allowed restaurants, movie theaters and shopping malls to reopen at lower capacity. To Weeter, it seemed arbitrary and unfair that those businesses could open but not hers. With her employees in dire straits, she said her nine locations in Texas were approved for loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, but the money has not come through for some shops.
A few hours after she opened on Friday, she said, police officers threatened to arrest people inside. Weeter shut it down — before opening it back up on Tuesday.
She had two prominent customers seeking illegal haircuts: a pair of GOP state lawmakers.
In what state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) called an act of “civil disobedience,” he and state Rep. Steve Toth (R) came into Weeter’s salon for a trim. Nothing about it was quite cloaked in secrecy. The news cameras were rolling, broadcasting the scene for all to see. But no police arrived this time.
Toth said he just wanted to show solidarity with the salon and struggling businesses in general, thinking Abbott was moving too slowly in allowing all of them to reopen.
“I’ve got small-business owners calling me on the phone, and they’re in peril of losing their businesses, and they’re just absolutely despondent right now,” he said.
Weeter said she thought Abbott listened to her industry’s concerns but said she won’t wait until Friday to open legally. She said that every day her employees are out of work matters for them and that she is not concerned she will end up like Luther.
“We’re not trying to disrespect anybody,” Weeter said. “We just want the right to take care of our employees or take care of our customers.”
Weeter said her employees will be required to wear masks and customers will be encouraged to wear them as well. She said she stocked her shops with extra masks to give away in case customers need one.
During his news briefing Tuesday, Abbott encouraged everyone returning to businesses to wear masks but said the state will not require it. Stylists will be allowed only one customer at a time, and customers waiting must remain six feet apart or wait outside. Nail salons and tanning salons also will be reopening Friday, while Abbott said gyms can begin opening May 18 but without locker rooms and showers.
Mark Berman and Brittany Shammas contributed to this report.
This story has been updated.