Twenty-four years after being sent to prison for murder, Bruce Lisker has finally had his conviction overturned. In her ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips concluded that Lisker, a San Fernando man who was serving a life sentence for the murder of his 66-year-old mother, had been convicted as a result of "false evidence" and inadequate representation by his attorney.
The judge's findings matched those of Times reporters Scott Glover and Matt Lait, who four years ago retraced the police investigation and found significant errors. On Monday, Phillips said she intended to release Lisker on bail while prosecutors decided whether to appeal her decision, retry Lisker or drop the case against him.
The case is deeply disturbing; there is strong reason to fear that an innocent man spent more than two decades behind bars. What is certain is that Lisker, who was a troubled 17-year-old at the time of his mother's murder, did not get a fair shake at his trial. Even if he does eventually go free, the righting of this one wrong is not reason to celebrate.
What's even more disturbing is that such miscarriages of justice are being uncovered with troubling regularity these days, especially now that DNA evidence is being used to reopen old cases. The public appears to be shocked with each new revelation, but perhaps it is time to get over that. The truth is that this is an ongoing problem in California. And thanks to knee-jerk obstruction by district attorneys and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state has made little progress in fixing it.