Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
A judge in Texas was "vindictive" and showed “no mercy and no compassion” when he gave a Dallas salon owner a choice between closing her business or spending seven days in jail for violating a coronavirus shutdown order, the state’s lieutenant governor said Wednesday night.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick shared his views during an appearance on “Fox News @ Night” with Shannon Bream.
Earlier Wednesday, Patrick tweeted he was willing to pay salon owner Shelley Luther’s $7,000 fine and be placed under house arrest to serve her sentence “so she can go to work and feed her kids,” after Luther decided to serve time behind bars rather than comply with a shutdown order.
During their conversation on Fox News @ Night, Bream asked Patrick what he thought of another tweet, by a Republican state lawmaker who had accused Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of not doing enough on behalf of the salon owner after she opted to serve time in jail.
“I don’t focus on attack dogs. I focus on Shelley tonight, Shannon,” Patrick replied. “She should be home with her kid and she should be home for Mother’s Day.”
Patrick then said it was Judge Eric Moye who deserved criticism, not Abbott.
“This judge showed no mercy and he showed no compassion,” Patrick said. “My son, who is a U.S. attorney now, was a criminal court judge who had a great reputation as a tough judge. But he always showed compassion and mercy when it was called for – and this was a situation when it was called for.
“When you’re a small businessperson … when you have all of your money wrapped up in your business and all of your dreams wrapped in your business, and a judge takes them away from you and says you’re going to go to jail because you were fighting for them? I mean look .. we don’t want anyone to go to jail. We would like for people to follow the orders -- and so she didn’t follow the orders -- but the judge could have simply said, ‘Let me give you a $50 fine, one day in jail, I’ll suspend the sentence … no time in jail at all …
“But this judge was vindictive, he was out to make a point. … If he had called the governor, I assure you Greg Abbott would have said, ‘Don’t send her to jail.’ No, he didn’t want to do that.”
"This judge was vindictive, he was out to make a point."
Patrick then said he understood people who are concerned about reopening businesses too soon during the coronavirus outbreak – but explained that many businesses are facing severe pressure because of the shutdowns.
“For a lot of small businesses in this country, Shannon, they can’t wait another 30 days, another 60 days,” Patrick said. “They will be out of business. There won’t be jobs to come back to.”
He reiterated that the salon owner was simply fighting for her family and defending the livelihoods of her 18 employees.
“What this judge did was a total disgrace,” he said, adding later, “If he’s a man, he’ll step up tomorrow or Friday, before Mother’s Day … and let her out of jail.”