IssuesLocal NewsDallas County Calls on Governor to Apologize to Judge Over Salon Owner Controversy

The Dallas County Commissioners Court is asking the governor and lieutenant governor to apologize to Judge Eric Moyé in light of the Shelley Luther controversy.
May 19, 2020
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The Dallas County Commissioners Court passed a resolution Tuesday urging the governor and lieutenant governor to “issue an immediate apology to” District Judge Eric Moyé “whose professional record is impugned.” 

The resolution passed 4-1 with Commissioner J.J. Koch in opposition.

Commissioner John Wiley Price proposed the original resolution that called Governor Abbott’s executive orders regarding the COVID-19 crisis shoddy and loosely written, and then accused Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of racist actions akin to Dred Scott v. Sandford, the notorious case in which the United States Supreme Court declared that slaves were property and not citizens.

Price strongly supported Moyé in the resolution as having an “unblemished reputation as a fair and impartial jurist.”  

In the 2019 Dallas Bar Association’s judicial evaluation poll, Moyé ranked as needing improvement in the category “demonstrates a proper judicial temperament and demeanor” by 64 percent of respondents. 

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Another apparent reason for Price’s proposed resolution was Governor Greg Abbott’s statement that no Texas resident should serve jail time for violating an order associated with coronavirus, retroactive to April 2. 

This retroactive change came just after salon owner Shelley Luther was condemned to jail for seven days for contempt of court after violating Moyé’s restraining order to stop operating her business.

Luther was released by order of the Texas Supreme Court the same day pending the resolution of her petition for writ of habeas corpus, leading many to believe that Abbott’s order was the basis for her release. 

“The governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general had no effect on the release of the salon owner. The Texas Supreme Court released her,” Koch pointed out.

County Judge Clay Jenkins insinuated that the governor’s retroactive order was biased because the governor did not take immediate action after two Hispanic nail technicians were arrested in Laredo for offering services prohibited by local emergency orders.

Commissioner Elba Garcia proposed amendments to the resolution, removing some of the highly charged language. 

“I really believe we need to look forward and stop pointing fingers,” Garcia said. “I support Judge Moyé one hundred percent, however I can not support the resolution as written.”  

The resolution, as passed, condemned the “choreographed, racially-charged attack on the integrity of Judge Moyé,” called for apologies to the judge, and urged that “hundreds of thousands of dollars collected in this firestorm of foolishness be donated to worthy causes and people who are genuinely in need.”

Approximately $500,000 was donated to Luther’s case through a GoFundMe campaign. Luther’s attorney reports that she has since worked to create a non-profit organization to help others adversely affected by the coronavirus orders.

Koch, who voted against the order, accused Price of a political flip-flop. “Just two weeks ago, you were fighting on behalf of your constituents that are struggling to open their barbershops. If this were an African-American woman, you wouldn’t say ‘boo’.” 

The Texas Supreme Court has not yet ruled on Luther’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.  

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.