LOS ANGELES (CNS) – After initially claiming illness, Lindsay Lohan appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom today with New York City attorney Mark Heller; and a judge agreed to let Heller and a California associate represent the troubled actress on three misdemeanor charges stemming from a car crash last June.
Lohan, who recently parted ways with her longtime attorney Shawn Holley, arrived in Los Angeles shortly after midnight; and she and her mother, Dina, were turned away from Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. TMZ.com reported that the actress, now 26, was blacklisted for tearing up a room there in 2007.
In court this morning, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner told Lohan that she was “glad to see you’re feeling better.”
Amid some friendly banter, Heller mentioned that New York was having a flu epidemic. But Sautner — a former New York City detective — told Heller that she understood Lohan had a cold, an upper respiratory problem.
“I still have New Yorker in me. The flu is the flu. It’s a whole different dance,” she told Heller.
Lohan appeared in minimal makeup, two gold chains around her neck and a sleeveless black dress.
Heller said he wanted to move “expeditiously” to “bring closure to this drama in her life.”
The judge mentioned that she was retiring soon and that the case, now set for trial March 18, would outlast her. Sautner said she would allow Heller or his associate to appear on Lohan’s behalf in future pretrial hearings.
Lohan was charged Nov. 29 by the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office with one misdemeanor count each of willfully resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer, providing false information to an officer and reckless driving. The misdemeanors each carry potential jail terms ranging from three months to a year.
Lohan was already on probation because of the theft of a necklace from a Venice jewelry store and now stands accused of violating the terms of her probation, which ultimately could send her to jail.
Through Holley, Lohan pleaded not guilty on Jan. 15 to the charges, which accuse her of lying to police by telling Santa Monica officers she was not driving a Porsche that rear-ended a truck on Pacific Coast Highway June 8 as she headed for work on the TV film “Liz & Dick.”
During the arraignment, which Lohan did not attend, Superior Court Commissioner Jane Godfrey ordered the actress to personally appear in court for today’s hearing. Sautner, who had previously overseen Lohan’s theft case, said Godfrey had a conflict this morning and that she was substituting for her.
Outside court, Heller said he was “very much honored” that the judge agreed to allow him to represent Lohan, whom he described as suffering from an upper respiratory ailment.
“… (A)fter an assessment by her doctor, she was counseled for her own best physical condition not to travel and also to protect the public, so that no one became contaminated until she felt better,” Heller said.
“And at the very last minute yesterday, she did feel better and she wanted to show respect to the judge and respect to the prosecutors’ office, so at her own detriment she traveled her … to present herself to the court,” Lohan’s new attorney said.
“I don’t think that it was her perception that if she failed to come a warrant would issue for her arrest because when there is good legal cause, as there certainly was here, with the medical certificate (from Lohan’s doctor), I don’t think it would have been likely that the court would have issued a warrant,” Heller told a group of reporters.
He said he is “confident that this case will be concluded in a way that will be satisfying to the court, to the defendant, to the prosecutors, to the people of this great state; and I am going to be very proud to be part of the process of making sure that justice is served.”
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