Arlington attorney Warren Norred typically spends work days on intellectual property cases filed in federal court.
But now Norred, principal in Norred Law, has found himself in the eye of a political hurricane by representing Shelley Luther, owner of Salon A La Mode in Dallas.
The city of Dallas sued Luther for opening her salon on April 24, in violation of Dallas’ COVID-19 stay-home order. The case ramped up this week when a Dallas judge jailed Luther for contempt of court because she violated that court’s temporary restraining order by continuing to run her salon. Her sentence was seven days in jail and a $7,000 fine, with another $500 per day that the salon remained open, reported The Texan.
Read the full petition:
Earlier this week, though, in a separate legal proceeding, the Supreme Court denied a mandamus petition by Salon a la Mode and other plaintiffs, saying they needed to file their lawsuit in a district court first. But a concurring opinion on Tuesday by Justice Jimmy Blacklock, joined by three other justices, said people should not tolerate unconstitutional orders during the pandemic.
“Those who object to these restrictions should remember they were imposed by duly elected officials, vested by statute with broad emergency powers, who must make difficult decisions under difficult circumstances,” Blacklock wrote. “At the same time all of us—the judiciary, the other branches of government, and our fellow citizens—must insist that every action our governments take complies with the Constitution, especially now. If we tolerate unconstitutional government orders during an emergency, whether out of expediency or fear, we abandon the constitution at the moment we need it most.”
Norred, who wasn’t available for an interview because he’s scheduled for three national television shows to discuss Luther’s case, is no stranger to controversial cases that deal with government regulations that impact the operations of businesses, explained Annette Norred, a paralegal at the firm and also Warren’s wife. He and his four-attorney firm have created a niche practice in defending businesses in civil liberties cases, she said.
“Anybody who knows Warren knows he’s been passionate about freedom, liberty and that cause,” Annette Norred said.
Warren Norred earned his law degree in 2007 from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, which has since changed names to Texas A&M University School of Law. He launched Norred Law right out of law school. Before he was an attorney, Norred was an electrical engineer since 1993.
Other defense attorneys on the case include C. Chad Lampe, who works in Norred’s firm, and state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Baytown, senior attorney in Fulton Strahan Law Group in Houston.
The Lone Star State’s Republican leaders have reacted strongly to Luther’s case.
Norred himself is politically connected.
He serves on the governing body of the Texas GOP, the state Republican executive committee. He’s served as pro bono counsel to the Tarrant County Republican Party, in addition to being its past precinct chair.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement that jailing Luther for seven days was excessive.
“Compliance with executive orders during this pandemic is important to ensure public safety,” Abbott said. “However, surely there are less restrictive means to achieving that goal than jailing a Texas mother.”
Paxton’s statement also objected to imprisonment.
“No Texan should face imprisonment for peacefully resisting an order that temporarily closed a lawful business and drastically limited their ability to provide for their family through no fault of their own,” Paxton said.
Politics is involved now, yet it likely played no role for the judge who jailed her.
Judge Eric Moyé of Dallas County’s 14th District Court, who is presiding over the case, does not play favorites and is very serious about compliance with court orders, according to an email by Steve Kardell, a Dallas employment law litigator who just finished a complex case in Moyé’s court. The judge would jail anyone for intentionally violating a court order, he said.
Kardell, of Kardell Law Group in Dallas, wrote, “His treatment of the beauty salon lady is in no way different than how he treats every litigant and their lawyers in his court.”