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Dallas Salon Owner’s Release from Jail Draws National Attention

Dallas Salon Owner's Release from Jail

The Texas Supreme Court ordered the release of Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther on May 7, 2020. Dallas County law enforcement arrested and jailed Luther earlier in the week for violating Governor Greg Abbot’s stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Luther violated the order by opening her salon and offering services to clients. Her case and fine of $7000 also brought into question what does a bail bondsman do in situations that counteract stay-at-home orders in the state.

Abbot himself modified the order and acknowledged that Texas business owners should not be jailed for violating the stay-at-home mandate. He admitted that business owners had to work and feed their children. Their businesses were closed through no fault of their own.

President Trump weighed in on Luther’s matter Thursday after a visit with Abbott at the White House. Trump said he was glad to see that Luther was released and that Abbott had modified his order to be retroactive to April 2, 2020. The president said that Luther appeared to be doing a good job and that she had to do what she had to do to take care of her children.

As Luther walked out of the Dallas County jail facility, she faced an exuberant crowd of supporters from around the state and country. She thanked those gathered and said that even though she did not know many of them by name, she still considered them to be her friends. She said that the show of support from people around the country overwhelmed her.

Before her release, however, Dallas County law enforcement officials said that Abbott’s modified governor would have no impact on Luther’s case. Raul Reyna, who works as a spokesperson for the Dallas County Sheriff’s office, told reporters that Luther did not violate Abbott’s order but rather the order of District Judge Eric Moye.

Despite that, the Supreme Court still ordered her release, and Abbott used Luther’s situation as a foundation for changing his statewide stay-at-home order. The change in his order also brought to light the arrest of two Hispanic business owners in Laredo. Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia and Brenda Stephanie Mata were arrested and jailed last month for providing clients with eyelash and nail services. They were released the same day as their arrests.

Still, state and national media did not highlight their cases as much as they did Luther’s arrest and release. Texas civil rights leaders point out the disparities and suggest that racial discrimination could be at play. The two defendants in the Laredo case did not receive extensive public support or donations to their cause like Luther, who received a $7000 donation to her GoFundMe account from Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick.

Moye wrote a letter in response to Luther being released from jail. He and 11 other judges urged law enforcement in Texas to let the judicial process play out in cases of people being arrested for violating the stay-at-home order. Attorney General Ken Paxton responded by reminding the judges that they are independent of the executive branch in Texas but not of the people.

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