Sep 23, 2009

Bruce Lisker's Freedom Infuriates the D.A.

Bruce Lisker's mother Dorka was brutally murdered in 1983.  Lisker was convicted of the murder in 1985, and languished in prison until August 2009, when a federal judge overturned the conviction.  The judge ruled that the conviction had been based on false evidence, and that Lisker's trial attorney had not defended him competently.  The Los Angeles D.A. could have re-tried Lisker, but in September 2009 surprised everyone at a court hearing by announcing that it would not re-file murder charges against Lisker because it lacked evidence of guilt.  After spending about a quarter of a century in prison, Lisker was finally free.

The D.A.'s office was hardly apologetic.  The prosecutor insisted that he was personally confident of Lisker's guilt, but had to drop the charge due to a lack of evidence.  What a terribly embarrassing thing for the D.A. to say.  What would have been wrong with "So sorry?"  

The evidence on which Lisker's conviction was based turned out to be so unreliable and perhaps even falsified that even Phillip Rabichow, the Deputy D.A. who prosecuted Lisker in the 1985 trial, told investigators said that he had a reasonable doubt of Lisker's guilt.  If you want to read about the sordid details, they are brilliantly captured in this 2005 LA Times story.  Shoddy police work, lying, jailhouse snitches, a rush to judgment by the police, a suspect who at 17 already had an unsavory past-- you'll find in Lisker's story all of the usual suspects when miscarriages of justice occur. 

The added ingredient in Lisker's story is the D.A.'s nasty and uncalled-for farewell.  The D.A.'s mindset serve as an assurance that future miscarriages of justice will occur.