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Private Funds? - Judge Rejects White's Request
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In court action Thursday, Oct 4, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Reeves ruled that Riverbank City Councilman Jesse James White will have to use a public defender rather than have the county pay for his private attorney for his defense in a February felony arrest from a car crash in Oakdale. White remains free on $25,000 bail.

During a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 21, White informed Judge Reeves that he could no longer 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, funded by the county.

White is charged with felony counts of driving under the influence causing injury and child endangerment. He is also facing misdemeanor charges for hit and run with injury, hit and run with property damage, and resisting arrest when he fought with responding police officers.

On Feb. 20, around 1 a.m., witnesses reported that White crashed his 2002 Corvette into a parked Chevrolet Cruze on F Street and fled the scene on foot when he learned the police were called, leaving his injured 4-year-old son in his vehicle. He was tackled by two residents, one of whom was the owner of the parked car, and forcibly restrained until police arrived.

When officers got to the scene, they noted a strong odor of alcohol on White.

According to the arrest report, White became combative and repeatedly tried to headbutt the arresting officer and a firefighter. He refused to cooperate and reportedly kept stating, "I'm Jesse James White and you're going to regret this."

At the time of his arrest, White's blood alcohol content was .24, three times the California legal limit of .08.

Despite Belsher's assertion that she was the best to handle the case due to knowledge of the case and another attorney would need time to get caught up, Judge Reeves assigned a public defender based on her belief that the case was not complicated and involved "low grade felonies."

Court records show that White is not unfamiliar with the criminal justice system. Belsher attempted to use her knowledge of White's previous cases as a reason for her to be retained.

At the time of his election to the Riverbank City Council in 2008, White, 19 at the time, had been arrested for driving under the influence in 2007 and had it reduced to "wet reckless driving." He was given probation by the court for the offense.

In May 2010, while on the council, White was arrested for felony possession of cocaine that resulted from a probation search by the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department. White later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drug charges that allowed him to stay in office.

Court records available did not show if Belsher was White's attorney during those previous cases.

In 2009, the Stanislaus County civil grand jury ruled that White was not a registered voter of Riverbank at the time he took out papers to run for council and therefore had no right to assume his council seat. The jury recommended he be removed from office.

White claimed the 2010 arrest was a ploy by city officials, including the sheriff's department, to have him disqualified to be a council member.

Earlier this year, White entered rehab for chemical dependency.

When contacted, White declined to comment on his case and said he completed his rehabilitation requirements and was released on Sept 30.

White said he was assigned a public defender, Marcus Mumford, on Friday, Oct. 5, but has not spoken with him, since Mumford was on vacation. He said his next court date is Oct 26.

White's term on the Riverbank council expires this year; he is not seeking re-election.