We are often contacted by media for the legal status of the Shelley Luther case.
Introduction: Shelley Luther was one of several plaintiffs that was part of the first effort we made to push back on local executive orders, where we sought assistance from the Texas Supreme Court. But as time went on, Shelley grew impatient with the City of Dallas, which has allowed actual criminals out of jail while persecuting people who are trying to survive by working for a living. This is the briefly summarized story of the legal battle that has been going on since that time.
- March 29 - Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued his "Safer at Home Order" and around this time, Shelley Luther closed her Dallas salon, Salon A La Mode.
- March 30 - T.C. Broadnax, Manager of the City of Dallas issued his "Third Amended Emergency Regulations" enforcing the Jenkins order as though it is law.
- April 17 - Gov. Abbott issued Exec. Order No. GA-16 which allowed some businesses to open but includes verbiage stating "people shall avoid...cosmetology salons."
- April 23 - Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an updated "Safer at Home Order" that reflected Gov. Abbott’s GA-16 and extended the previous order until May 15, 2020.
- April 24 - T.C. Broadnax, Manager of the City of Dallas issued his Fourth Amended Emergency Regulations, adopting the amended Jenkins order.
- April 24 - Luther re-opened Salon A La Mode; Dallas Code Inspector Gonzalez issued Luther a notice of violation for violating the City's Fourth Emergency Regulations; County Judge Jenkins sent over a hand-delivered a cease-and-desist letter to Luther.
- April 27 – Luther received another notice of violation to Luther through counsel.
- April 28 – Dallas filed Case No. DC-20-06131 against Luther for violating the 4th Emergency Regulations under Section 54.016 of the Texas Local Government Code; the court granted a temporary restraining order requiring Luther to shut down the salon, based on the idea that its operation endangered the health of others by violating “laws” of Dallas. The court issues the TRO without requiring a bond to protect Luther from economic damage.
- May 7 – Luther is found in contempt after refusing to close, jailed for two weeks.
- May 8 – Luther files a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that she should be released because: 1) without a bond, no TRO can be issued, and no contempt, and thus no jail; and 2) because the emergency rules are not “law”.
- May 9 – The Texas Supreme Court in Case No. 20-0363 granted temporary relief while it mulled over the petition, releasing Luther that morning.
- May 12 – Based on a motion by Luther, the Court further set a schedule of briefings over the next two weeks, which were completed on May 22.
Currently, the Texas Supreme Court has the case, which is fully briefed, and will issue an opinion at some point. So far as we can see, the result will be one of three options:
1) The Court can deny our writ, concluding that we are just wrong, that the emergency rules are effectively laws, and that Luther’s operation endangered others, and that the City of Dallas need not post a bond when enjoining a business from operation; or
2) The Court can grant our writ, concluding that the City of Dallas needed to post a bond to have a valid TRO, and since no TRO existed, no contempt occurred, and Luther could not be jailed;
3) The Court can grant our writ, concluding that the rules are not laws, and without a violated law, none of what the trial court did was proper.
4) Something else which I have not considered, as the imagination of the nine Texas Supreme Court Justices certainly exceeds my own.
With additional questions, contact us at 817-704-3984.