Lindsay Lohan returned to L.A. to appear in court today, Jan. 30, for lying to the cops about a car accident that was definitely her fault.

She was in New York earlier this week, but rather than facing a possible arrest warrant for skipping court today, LiLo rushed back to Cali with her mother Dina in tow to avoid adding yet another mug shot to her ever expanding collection.

Yesterday, Lindsay claimed she was too sick to appear in court because she had an upper respiratory infection and was not able to fly -- at least according to documents that her new lawyer Mark Heller submitted to the judge from a doctor of probably ill repute.

Rather than lying low though, Lindsay was photographed out and about while shopping because she hasn't quite figured out how to work that tricky cloaking device just yet.

As a result, La Lohan was told she'd have an arrest warrant put out for her if she didn't appear in court, at which point she hopped on the last flight out of J.F.K. with Mama Lohan. Unfortunately, when they arrived, they were turned away from a swanky L.A. hotel because Lindsay had been banned for trashing it back in 2007.

Not an auspicious start to the hearing to come.

LiLo was miraculously on time for her 9:00 a.m. hearing with Judge Stephanie Sautner, who was probably none too happy to see Lindsay in her courtroom again.

"I'm glad to see you're feeling better," Sautner quipped, which quickly escalated into the judge throwing both tea and shade at Heller for saying a visibly tired Lindsay had something like the flu.

When Heller said Lindsay had a "flu-like illness" and was going to be a no-show "out of respect" for everyone else, the judge responded, “Is that like a cold? No, it's not ... The flu is the flu."

After Lindsay confirmed that long-suffering lawyer Shawn Holley was no longer representing her, the smarmy Heller was granted permission to take over her case.

He proceeded to be the skeeziest lawyer who ever skeezed in a courtroom (which is saying an awful lot), trying to flatter Sautner by saying they both have a connection to the Big Apple since she was once a detective there. But Judge Steph was having none of it.

Lohan's trial is set for March 18, and she's not required to be at the pre-trial hearings that begin March 1. And in yet more proof that Lindsay must have racked up some good karma somewhere, she won't have to worry about facing the stern Sautner again -- seems the judge is retiring before LiLo's trial begins.

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