Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick defends jailed salon owner: Judge's decision 'not what America is about'

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Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick defended previously jailed salon owner Shelley Luther on Friday, telling "America's Newsroom"  that the case for her arrest is "not what America's about."

Patrick, a Republican, told the show's co-host Ed Henry that the Lone Star State's coronavirus shutdown orders were never intended to put anyone in jail.

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"That was not the purpose. That was not the goal. That was trying to get people to follow orders. There were some other remedies you could take: some fines or even looking at a license. But, not anyone [going to] jail," he asserted. "These were local decisions by local authorities, and it was just [a] giant overreach by this judge who showed no mercy and no compassion for a lady who was just trying to protect her employees and her business."

Luther was ordered jailed for seven days on Tuesday by state District Judge Eric Moye after she violated a local business closure order.

Moye gave Luther the option of avoiding prison if she apologized for what he described as her "selfish" behavior, paid a fine, and kept her doors closed until Friday when hair salons across Texas can open with restrictions.

Luther refused to do so.

"When you take away someone's business from them, you take everything they probably earned in their life and everything they're going to earn and you take away their dream," Patrick stated. "And so, she stood her ground and she broke the rules, [she] should have been fined $50 or so, and she should never have gone to jail. This judge was coldhearted."

Patrick told Henry that Judge Moye should be looked at for judicial misconduct before he appears on the ballot again in November and that he and fellow Republicans and state leaders Gov. Gregg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton got involved because they saw Moye's measures as "a giant overreach."

Salon owner Shelley Luther adjusts her hair while listening to a question after she was cited by City of Dallas officials for reopening her Salon A la Mode in Dallas, Friday, April 24, 2020. Hair salons have not been cleared for reopening in Texas. Luther was asked by officials to close and was issued a citation when she refused. Luther said she will remain open for business. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Salon owner Shelley Luther adjusts her hair while listening to a question after she was cited by City of Dallas officials for reopening her Salon A la Mode in Dallas, Friday, April 24, 2020. Hair salons have not been cleared for reopening in Texas. Luther was asked by officials to close and was issued a citation when she refused. Luther said she will remain open for business. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

"And Ed, I don't want to make it too political but everywhere we see in the country from the East Coast to the West Coast where you see some draconian measures, they're coming from Democratic governors...[and] county judges and maybe some attorney generals and local mayors," he noted.

"This is not the America that we are and it sure as heck is not Texas...and this judge does not represent the way Texans think and most judges think. He just had no compassion, no empathy whatsoever," Patrick asserted.

While Moye has personally declined to comment, in a letter signed by 11 other state district judges, he responded to criticism from Paxton, who had called Wednesday for Luther’s release from jail.

“For the sake of ALL of the citizens of Texas, please let the Judicial process play out without any further interference,” the judges wrote in their letter to Paxton, calling the attorney general’s comments inappropriate.

But, Patrick told Henry that Moye was in the wrong and lacked discernment.

"And, remember, he didn't send her to jail because she violated the order. He sent her to jail because she wouldn't grovel and apologize to him," he pointed out.

"Who in the heck does this guy think he is?"

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Patrick also took issue with Luther not being allowed to post bail, given the city's broader policies on granting bail to criminals.

"At the same time Dallas County is letting criminal after criminal after criminal out without bail or low bail and you're treating this woman like this?" he asked. "And, criminals -- oh -- get out jail free card no matter what they did?"

"No. Not on our watch in Texas," he concluded.