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Dallas salon owner who refused to close sentenced to seven days in jail, ordered to pay fines

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Shelley Luther, owner of Salon a la Mode in Dallas, spoke to a crowd of supporters outside Frisco City Hall last month during an Open Texas rally against coronavirus pandemic restrictions. She was sentenced to jail Tuesday for violating a court order to keep her salon closed. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock

DALLAS — A Dallas salon owner who has continued offering services despite a citation, a cease-and-desist letter and a restraining order was sentenced Tuesday to seven days in jail.

In Tuesday afternoon's hearing, Dallas Civil District Judge Eric Moyé also ordered her to pay thousands in fines for refusing to shut down her salon in violation of shelter-in-place orders.

Salon a la Mode owner Shelley Luther reopened Thursday, even though the state has required nonessential businesses to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that salons will be allowed to reopen Friday.

The judge heard testimony from a Dallas code inspector and a Dallas police officer who both testified they saw clients inside the salon getting haircuts and manicures over the last seven days despite Moyé's rulings.

City attorneys argued Luther willfully and flagrantly violated Moyé's order.

Luther took the stand saying she had to open out of necessity.

“I have no choice. I need to feed my family, and my stylists could not feed their families,” Luther said.

But she also testified that she had recently received a loan from the federal government.

[Editor's note: On the same day Luther was sentenced, two Texas lawmakers got illegal haircuts as a show of defiance of Abbott's earlier orders that barber shops and hair salons remain closed.]

The judge became visibly upset after being interrupted twice and having to tell Luther's attorney to sit down.

“You will not interrupt me in my courtroom," Moyé said.

City attorneys argued that it didn’t matter how Luther was operating her salon and that the only issue at hand was whether she was open in violation of the temporary restraining order.

Moyé asked Luther if she was still operating to this day.

“Yes, partially," Luther said.

Moyé told Luther she was both criminally and civilly in violation of his order.

He said Luther could not just take matters into her own hands because she decided that's what she wanted to do.

“The rule of law governs us. People cannot take it upon themselves to determine what they will and will not do,” said Moyé.

At times there were technical issues as the court reporter who was taking notes remotely struggled to hear the judge, lawyer and witnesses.