Judge Elden Fox to Mahdavi: Don’t Drive Without A License, 90 days community service for maiming

“She shouldn’t drive unless she has a valid driver’s license.”  That was Judge Elden Fox’s message today to Celine Mahdavi, the women who clobbered Louis Deliz into 49 days of hospitalization.

Lindsay Lohan will likely serve 14 days of the 90 day sentence in County jail she began today.  She violated the terms of her probation on DUI charges.

The same day that Lohan turned herself in to the Beverly Hills Courthouse, the case against Celine Mahdavi was scheduled for a pretrial hearing on the 3rd floor.  I know because I walked through the gauntlet of photographers so I could surrender my tools and my camera to security to go upstairs and observe.

Celine Mahdavi hit Louis Deliz so hard that his teeth were embedded in her car, then drove away, Deliz’ body dislodging from her car and landing face down.  He lost most of the lower half of his jaw, all his lower teeth, broke both legs, broke nearly all his fingers, broke his hip, and punctured a lung (if memory serves.)  Just a few days ago, Louis had a massive seizure, and he is still seeing double from it.  To this day he can’t walk right, he can’t talk right, he can’t see right, and he has nightmares and flashbacks.  Mahdavi, 18 at the time, was pulled over a half mile from the accident where she tested positive for alcohol.

A few hours after Lohan began her 90 days in jail, Judge Elden S. Fox sentenced Mahdavi to 90 days of community service – 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, to be done in a 180 day period.  Most likely Mahdavi will be picking up trash with CalTrans or taking part in graffiti removal.

Fox also ordered that Mahdavi should pay full restitution to Deliz, serve 36 months probation, take part in alcohol counseling, participate in the Hospitals and Morgue program.

"She shouldn't drive unless she has a valid driver's license" - Judge Eldon S. Fox
"She shouldn't drive unless she has a valid driver's license" - Judge Eldon S. Fox to hit and run perpetrator Celine Mahdavi, who permanently disabled Louis Deliz

The prosecution offered Mahdavi a plea of 1 year in jail and 5 years probation.  Instead, Mahdavi’s defense submitted a memorandum of disposition, effectively falling on the mercy of the court, and allowing the judge to sentence Mahdavi without trial.  Fox offered the far lesser sentence, with a variety of self contradictory justification.  Sometimes calling the collision an “accident” – implying that there was no intent without explanation – Fox explained how he considered a 1 year, 6 month, then a 4 month, and finally a 90 day sentence in County jail.  Finally, he explained, he settled on no jail time at all (or 1 day for each count, but 1 day also credited for each count.)

Fox talked tough to Mahdavi saying “I do not believe for one minute that you did not realize you were in a collision for a cyclist” and went on to specify that she should have known that he injured someone.  He explained to Deliz’ family that he found it hard to look at the photographs and evidence.  “My heart goes out to you”, Fox said.

Fox told Mahdavi that she cannot carry any deadly weapons during the 3 years of her probation, listing guns and knives as examples of deadly weapons.  Fox did not list cars as deadly weapons, only ordering that Mahdavi should not drive “unless she has a valid driver’s license.”

Know this cyclists – no one will defend you.  If you are hit it is unlikely the police will care.  If they do care, it is unlikely it will go to court.  If it does go to court, it is unlikely the judge will care.  You are on your own.  If you don’t have a big family like Louis does – one that will step in and step up to take care of you – then you can’t get hit.  You can’t get hit because you won’t get treated fairly.  I know getting hit isn’t under your control, just understand that no one that matters cares about you, and the “justice” system will not take care of you.

There is basically no reason not to hit cyclists and pedestrians – it’s open season.

(edited for correct spelling of “Celine” – thanks commenter Rach Stevo)

(Edit: Celine Mahdavi’s license is currently suspended it is my understanding, as a result of her not responding to inquiries from the DMV re this incident.  Lawyers at the hearing seemed to agree that she will be able to apply for removal of the suspension early next year.  What’s absurd to me is that she would be allowed to obtain a license at all, that her license is suspended and not revoked, and that the judge would leave this decision to the DMV, rather than ordering it suspended.

So, no Mahdavi on the streets (at least legally speaking) now, but possibly early next year.)

Alex Thompson

Bikerowave co-founder, Cyclists' Bill of Rights co-author, President of Bikeside, and Math Phd. HULK SMASH straight from Michigan!

93 thoughts on “Judge Elden Fox to Mahdavi: Don’t Drive Without A License, 90 days community service for maiming

  1. @sam you are good at criticizing others without knowing anything about law. I assume you are not a lawyer? I am a driver over 25 years, occasionally I ride my bikes. Bicycle always has the right-of-way. The situation you described about car hitting rear door is not 100% correct. It depends on the situation for example if accident occurred in the parking lot, it can be at fault. Few years ago, a car rear door hit my front trying to cut me off. Guess what, the final judgment was that the 22 years old girl at fault. Her insurance ended up paying everything. I don’t know anything about this case so I am not going to make any comment. However, she is lucky I am not Louis or I will sue her till her family goes bankrupt. @Sam, I challenge you to hit a BMW, Porsche or Ferrari and see if you can win your case. :-)

  2. wow. This is not only worthy of a riot it’s worthy of a protest at whatever effin city hall this case was ruled under.

    Is there going to be a protest ride?! If there is I say we march on the courthouse or city hall with buckets of movie blood and get CRANK MOB with it.

    We’ll dump blood on ourselves and go speak to the council. We get messy for FUN let’s get messy and make a statement.

    This is so infuriating. Judge Fox is garbage.

  3. This town is a shithole, for more reasons than the lack of civilized public transportation and the lack of cycling infrastructure.

    If you ride in LA, then you better stand up any chance you get. I’m sick of hearing cyclists saying “I just wanna ride for fun”. Well, this is the situation that we’re in, get involved and fight to change this bullshit, otherwise you might be the next one in a coma.

  4. She is a convicted Felon. A potential murderer of bicyclists. Like child molesters and sexual predators, she is a menace to society. Why can’t we all get a restraining order against her. She cannot come within 1000 feet of a bicyclist, a bike lane, sharrows or bike paths. Better yet, she shouldn’t be able to drive a car forever(a deadly weapon in the hands of a potential murderer.)

  5. Shit. Depressing. Cars kill and injure more than anything in America but drivers bare no responsibility for their actions. They are worse than pedophiles. They can kill 30,000 people per year and still get community service? Are you kidding me. Your children bike too, how about protecting them. Oh, that’s right people don’t want their children to be near moving vehicles because most drivers suck and will run over their children.


  6. Sue the city. The family doesn’t have any money. She probably didn’t even have insurance. You could probably make a case that the city does not provide a safe environment to bike and does not enforce it’s laws properly thus making it more dangerous to ride. If I was a lawyer I would represent you. The only thing that will make the city take this issue seriously is to bring a lawsuit for a huge sum of money. I hope you win millions.

  7. When Mahdavi is finished serving her “community service” she will have spent less time picking up trash than Louis spent in the hospital recovering from his injuries.

  8. AT

    What is a just response / punishment to the incident that does play into an apples to apples to argument? Sure, jail time happens with others, but maybe it wasn’t fair in their case either. Get my point?

    I’m not a legal expert, but I”m also not an advocate of jail / prisons, just because prisons exist and others go there. I can easily advocate jail time and go home n

    My point, (unless we just have different thoughts on sending people to prison in this case), what would be an ideal, fair response to what the driver did / caused (in your opinion)?

  9. meant to say:

    **that does NOT play into

    **I can easily advocate jail time and go home, but jail is reality for some people, and it’s a reality I really don’t wish on anyone.

  10. I posted this same comment on Ted’s blog on a different story, but the same comment is relevant here:

    I think the approach we need to take is to remind everyone driving is a privilege not a right, and go after the driving privileges of the reckless, and in the case of hit and run, also the heartless and cowardly. I want to see in extreme cases, people banned from driving for life, their car impounded and with severe penalties if found to be driving unlicensed. I think in some cases jail time is appropriate, especially if deliberate intent is at play, but most of all I want reckless drivers off the road.

    Sometimes reckless drivers have no other past history of crime or violence outside of their car, so are less of a threat to all society in general like other criminals. They are only truly dangerous once put behind the wheel controlling a multi-ton vehicle at fast speed. So lets get these people out of cars.

    Additionally, losing ones driving privilege should come with class instruction on living car free. A lot of us are already living car free or car-lite by choice, but someone who has never fathomed the idea, they easily lapse into illegally driving without a license when they don’t understand alternatives.

  11. Which is not to say I am advocating no jail time, sometimes it’s appropriate, and if we are going to use jail time for a deterrent to crime in our society, it should be applied in an equitable fashion. What kind of justice do we have when people who commit crimes of small property damage get worse punishment than someone who damages a human being.

  12. threat of jail time is supposed to be a deterrent. if there is hardly ever jail time awarded then drivers learn that it’s worth it to run away and “risk” the “consequences” of being caught. Even at 18, Mahdavi knew it was better to run. THIS ATTITUDE HAS TO STOP and the only way it will stop is if there are REAL and HARSH consequences not just a slap on the wrist by some bitch-made county judge.

  13. I agree with Gary K. Go after their driving privileges, Make it close to impossible to get your license back in such cases (hit and run, drunk driving, etc), especially in such cases involving a cyclist. Shit, they might even have to go out and purchase a bicycle and have to commute through the city and learn for themselves first hand what it’s like to be on the other end of the stick.

  14. I witnessed this accident and was not asked to testify…I am writing a letter to the courts and to LA Times now. This is ridiculous.

  15. totally agree with Gary, I still think jail time should be a part of the punishment though.

  16. think about it, she gets to pick up trash for 90 days and hes gotta live with that pain from HER actions for the rest of his life. ridiculous

  17. Mark – I understand your point that jail time may not solve any problems. I put to you three things – much along the lines of what Gary said:

    1) The judge did not give a court order that she not be allowed to drive. This means that when January 2011 comes around, she could be driving again if the DMV sees fit. We should not be looking to the DMV to make criminal justice decisions.

    2) No jail time sends a clear message that this sort of thing is not a big deal. She has a felony charge – in the long run that, not jail time, will have the greatest negative impact on her. But to everyone else, the jail time is the disincentive. No one gives a fuck if they hit bikers and they don’t in part because they don’t face real penalties. Only a fraction of a percentage of these hit and runs land in court, so someone who hits a cyclist now knows they face a fraction of percentage risk of jail time should they hit a cyclist and leave them for dead. That’s an incentive to leave the scene, and it’s an incentive not to care if you hit cyclists.

    3) One member of Louis’ family made a very salient point. I was more in the camp that the Hospital and Morgue program, a drivers’ license suspension, her being forced to pay Louis’ medical bills, alcohol counseling, and her probation stand a better chance of changing Mahdavi than jail time. However, Louis family member argued that Mahdavi needs time to think about, to process what she has done. She needs to think about how horribly she has impacted Louis and whether she wants to continue to be that sort of person. She needs to think about how she will go about changing herself, and how she can do some good things in the world so that ultimately she can forgive herself –> that is the route out and up for Mahdavi. Without time in jail, she may never confront those issues.

  18. Erock – civil suit(s) come next. Always criminal then civil . . . a finding of guilt in criminal court is admissible in civil court but not vice versa. Therefore a criminal verdict can more or less settle the issue of guilt in a civil case, and then the debate in the civil case moves to what kind of damages are appropriate.

  19. Well said Alex, it seems that we need to start lobbying for well articulated laws pertaining to cyclist “hit and runs”. Any DMV license revocations for underage minors. As you remember I was sitting near you in the court room. It is my understanding that the charges against Ms. Mahdavi were rather limited due to unfortunate ambiguities with the evidence as if more articulate charges were pressed the prosecutions argument would have been more vulnerable.

    I think our biggest concern is to make sure that Louis gets restitution and financial relief to relieve his current suffering. I am ultimately pessimistic at this point of him recieving anything from the defendant or the Mahdavi family at all.

  20. Good day to all Louis’ supporters. I am Louis’ cousin and spoke at the sentencing. What you lack in understanding is the fact that she left the scene of the collision, left him for dead, showed absolutely no remorse and went on with her life. Louis’s life as he knew it is OVER. The person who thought she needed time in jail and gave that speech was my brother Tom who gave up his vacation with his wife and child at LEGOLAND to make sure Ms. Mahdavi would get jail time. Frustrated absolutely yes we are. It’s what we wanted and it is what Louis needed. Yes Judge Fox is not my most favorite person and if I was Lindsay Lohan I’d be rather pissed at the turn of events. I’m sure she would have been much happier had she gotten Judge Fox. If the news crews only knew what happened upstairs with real life instead of celebrity life I am sure Judge Fox would have been a little bit more on the ball. Thank you for all your support those who were there and those who were not. Know that Louis’ extended family also thinks very highly of the bike riders out there who have been some of our most passionate supporters – Thanks again!

  21. This is just not right. On the face of it the girl should have spent time in jail just for leaving the scene. We hear nothing of the circumstances of the crash at least in this report. Bike lane? Intersection?

    I do regret that stories like this make biking seem quite dangerous. This discourages all but the brave to get on the road.

    When you look at E.R. visits due to bikes you get about these numbers –
    66% are children.
    25% are Adults involved in Bike\Bike or solo accidents. All mine fall in this cat.
    10% are bike\car accidents. They are about equally divided into Car’s Fault, Bike’s Fault, and could not be determined.

    So biking is safer than many people would believe. We need to reach a critical mass of bikers on the road. Mom and Pops won’t do anything dangerous however.

  22. It seems that, even if the judge did not want to give any jail time, he could have taken Mahdavi’s license for a longer time or ordered more community service. Still, I don’t think you can single him out for giving “the going rate” for such a collision. Mandatory sentences for such crimes should be greater.

    Unfortunately, even if she were given a year in prison, she would likely be released within days as a “non-violent offender”.

    Deliz is likely alive today only because of a quick response by citizens, police, paramedics, and emergency room doctors. Alex, I think you are wrong that the police don’t care. A case would never have been filed if the police did not fully investigate.

    It is important to remember the person responsible here is Mahdavi. She drank alcohol (at 18 years old) and then drove her car. Her character and upbringing are demonstrated by her decision to leave a man dying in the street after causing his injuries.

    We can expect many more such accidents after the vote to legalize marijuana in California later this year.

  23. Greg,

    It’s a sentiment not meant to be literally true. It resonates with cyclists because that’s how it feels. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying it’s 90% true. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told someone was hit and the police wouldn’t take a report. It happens too often.

  24. I can’t stand Judge Fox….he is an arrogant jerk. He once remanded me to custody for calling him an SOB….I was the victim of the crime and he was making sure “the people” not me were satisfied. I am going to make sure I vote against him and I will try and get others too as well. He does not belong on the bench

  25. The “drive with a valid driver’s license and insurance in your possession at all times” is a standard term of probation imposed on all defendants in Vehicle Code-related cases. Not something special for this case.

    And the judge’s power (or lack thereof) to suspend a driver’s license is controlled by the state, not the judge. Write your representative in Sacramento.

  26. It’s a sarcasm thing marchtenth. The judge has the option to take away driving privileges as a condition of probation. Re mandatory loss of driving privileges – search Life Before License, kthxbai.

  27. Fox is more than notorious for cutting deals with attornies behind the backs of crime victims and their families. He actually left several pages of handwritten notes about the deals with contact phone numbers on his personal stationary in case files. Examples and details are online at: http://www.examiner.com/county-museum-of-art-in-los-angeles/lohan-felony-case-judge-s-record-could-impact-2011-local-elections. The 2011 local election is a chance to stop this. Contact your council or board of supervisor representative and ask for thier help in exchange for your vote.

  28. Max,

    Do you have any source beyond the Examiner? I can’t find any other confirmation, and the story at the Examiner is thin enough that I’m not convinced of it’s credibility. But if we could confirm the story, then that would be worth writing about.

    Anyway, thanks for bringing that to our attention Max!


  29. I dont know the intricacies of the case but it seems, based off of where his teeth first hit MAHDAVI’S vehicle that deliz was going against traffic or failed to stop at a crosswalk. either way it would appear to be a lack of awareness on both parts. now if deliz was in the bike lane and a drunk mahdavi was swerving and hit deliz thats one thing but i doubt that happened. Im more inclined to believe that deliz had one of those speed bikes with no breaks lightweight and expensive and was speeding along at night without looking both ways. he would appear to be looking for a scape goat but he is to blame. it couldve happened to any motorist even a bus driver. maybe if mahdavi wasnt intoxicated she wouldve hit the breaks before hitting deliz then honked the horn yelling watch out u fucking idiot. then sit back like whoa he almost killed hisself. jail is for criminals not for wrong place wrong time victims. there was no malicious intent. also…..maybe you should nt get on a street occupied by vehicles with engines unless your vehicle has an engine. stick to the sidewalk…u see people in the distance slow down…once the sidewalk clears up then speed up. stop trying to keep up with cars its a bicycle…get off the street!!!! if want the bike feel and u want to be on the street go get a “motor”cycle.

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