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Attorney Request Delays White Court Case
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In another unusual twist, Riverbank City Councilman Jesse James White, facing a court trial on three felony counts, has asked that his privately hired attorney now be appointed to him by the court.

White was in Stanislaus County Superior Court on Friday for an arraignment hearing and told the judge that he can't afford to pay his attorney, Mary Lynn Belsher, who he previously hired privately. Because of her familiarity with the case, White asked that the judge allow her to remain as his counsel, but serve as a court appointed attorney. That would mean her services would be paid for by the public.

White has been ordered to stand trial in connection with an auto accident in Oakdale that occurred in February, when he crashed his car into a parked vehicle and fled the scene, leaving his 4-year-old son behind in a car seat. The early morning crash resulted in minor injuries to the boy. White's Corvette struck a parked pick-up along F Street in Oakdale.

Friday's appearance in court was supposed to include a plea entered by White, but with his request to the court that his attorney be appointed to him, no action was taken in regards to a plea. Instead, Judge Dawna Reeves said she would have to take the request under advisement and issue a decision. Reeves set a return date to court for her decision for Oct. 4.

White, who is nearing the end of a four-year term on the Riverbank City Council, has been embattled almost since taking office. He is not seeking re-election and since his February arrest, has entered an alcohol rehabilitation program.

He faces felony charges of driving under the influence causing injury, driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of 0.24 and child endangerment. In California, the legal limit is 0.08, so White's blood alcohol level following the injury crash was three times the legal limit.

Additionally, misdemeanor charges in connection with the incident include hit and run causing injury, hit and run with property damage and resisting a peace officer.

In court on Friday, attorney Belsher told the judge appointing her to serve as White's counsel would be the wisest move, since she is familiar with the case and assigning a public defender would require a lot of time to prepare to take the case to a court trial. But since appointment of Belsher would mean the county taxpayers would foot the bill for White's defense, Reeves delayed the case until she has time to consider the request and make a decision.