Lindsay Lohan trial not delayed, lawyer says she's worthy of mercy, compassion
Lindsay Lohan's summer car crash case will go to trial as scheduled later this month, a Los Angeles judge has ruled, despite a last-ditch effort by her lawyer to dismiss her charges and also postpone the date.
During a hearing on Friday, March 1, the judge also criticized the actress' New York-based attorney over his lack of experience dealing with California criminal law, saying that he filed motions incorrectly and prematurely. The lawyer, Mark Heller, says police did not follow proper legal procedures when they arrested Lohan in June 2012, but says this matter should only be addressed at a trial.
The "Mean Girls" star, who did not appear in court and did not have to, is facing charges of lying to cops, reckless driving and "willfully resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer in the course of their duties," stemming from a June 2012 car accident in Los Angeles. While she has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges, they did spur a judge to revoke her probation from a 2011 missing necklace case.
At Friday's hearing, Heller asked that a scheduled March 18 trial date be moved to the first week of April, which would give him and Lohan more time to "pursue certain avenues" regarding the case, which could land her back in jail if she is convicted. The lawyer has been trying to reach a plea deal to avoid this. The judge denied his trial postponement request, saying he did not have "good cause."
"Mercy and compassion"
"As the court, I'm sure, is well-aware justice is always tempted with mercy and compassion and there seems to be some doubt as to whether Miss Lohan is entitled to mercy and compassion because of her history with this office," Heller said. "I believe that by giving Miss Lohan a little leeway, it will enhance her ability to show that she is worthy of mercy and compassion."
Over the past five years, Lohan has appeared in court at least 18 times over a slew of legal issues that have landed in jail five times -- for stints that have lasted a total of less than two weeks. She has also been treated for substance abuse.
On Wednesday, Heller told OTRC's parent company, KABC Television, that "Lindsay has experienced an epiphany," adding: "She has looked very closely at the present circumstance and has decided time has come to take a path that will enable her to be a proud, productive and positive contributor in her life, to her family, society and to the industry."
Heller added that Lohan is undergoing intense psychotherapy sessions and that she wants to record public service announcements about the dangers of domestic violence, alcohol abuse and drunken driving. He added that her plans have nothing to do with the criminal case.
Lohan hired Heller in January after parting way with longtime Los Angeles-based attorney Shawn Holley. The judge said at Friday's hearing that at the trial, Heller should enlist the help of a legal professional who has "some experience in California law." Otherwise, he said, Lohan should waive her right to have "somebody competent in criminal law" in the state.
So what happens now?
Heller will continue his efforts to try and reach a plea deal with prosecutors that would keep Lohan out of jail. Lohan faces up to one year behind bars if convicted in all counts in the car crash case and a maximum of 245 days if she is found to have violated her probation. Breaking the law constitutes a violation.
Lindsay Lohan's other legal issues
Lohan is also facing misdemeanor charges over a separate case -- she is accused of getting into an altercation with a woman, a psychic, at a New York nightclub. Heller says Lohan never made physical contact with her.
Lohan is also facing a lawsuit from a Los Angeles paparazzo, who claims he injured in a 2010 car crash involving her. He said she was in the passenger's seat as the driver of the vehicle ran him over as he tried to snap photos of her.
On Tuesday, a judge ordered Lohan, who owns the car, to pay the man $1,000 for failing to attend depositions about the case. The actress' insurance lawyer, Julia Azrael, said in August in her own court filing that the paparazzo "carelessly put himself near a moving automobile in order to photograph" Lohan.
(Pictured above: Lindsay Lohan appears at a Los Angeles court with her attorney, Mark Heller, at a previous hearing about her car crash case that took place on Jan. 30, 2013.)