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Bruce Lisker v. City of Los Angeles

February 16, 2012

BRUCE LISKER
v.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable A. Howard Matz, U.S. District Judge

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Present: The Honorable A. HOWARD MATZ, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

Stephen Montes Not Reported

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No. Attorneys NOT Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys NOT Present for Defendants:

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS (No Proceedings Held)

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion in Limine #14 to trifurcate the trial into three phases: (1) individual liability, (2) damages, and (3) Monell. Under the Defendants' suggested model, the issue of Plaintiff's innocence or guilt would be determined in the damages phase. Because the Court finds that Plaintiff's due process and Brady claims are inextricably intertwined with the question of his innocence or guilt, the Court DENIES Defendants' motion for trifurcation.*fn1 The Court will, however, modify its August 11, 2011, order (Dkt. 246) and will bifurcate the trial into two phases:

I. PHASE ONE: SECTION 1983 LIABILITY AND "GUILT DEFENSE."

In this phase, the jury will determine (1) the Section 1983 liability of the individual Defendants and (2) whether, even if the individual Defendants are found liable for violations of that statute, Plaintiff nevertheless would have been found guilty of the murder. Despite the best efforts of the Court and parties, these two issues cannot be separated in a meaningful and efficient manner. Thus, Phase One will be structured as follows.

(1) Stage I: Plaintiff's Case in Chief against Defendants Monsue and Landgren.

Plaintiff will present his case against the individual Defendants regarding his due process/Brady claims. Plaintiff will be required to establish all elements of liability, including Defendants' state of mind. The evidence will include an agreed-to stipulation summarizing at least portions of the evidence admitted at trial. Plaintiff will be permitted to introduce evidence incriminating Michael Ryan that was known to the individual Defendants at the time of his prosecution. Defendants may present counter evidence and may conduct cross-examinations in this stage (including of Plaintiff, if he testifies) to undermine Plaintiff's case against the individual Defendants. To refute Plaintiff's evidence regarding Defendants' state of mind, Defendants also will be permitted to introduce evidence incriminating Plaintiff that was known to the individual Defendants in 1983-1985 but not necessarily received into evidence at his trial.

After the completion of Stage I, the jury will answer a special verdict form disclosing whether plaintiff proved the elements of a Section 1983 claim. If the jury finds that plaintiff did so, then Stage II will commence immediately.

(2) Stage II: Defendants' Case in Chief: "Guilt" Defense

If the individual Defendants are found liable in Stage I, Defendants may then present additional evidence of Plaintiff's guilt as a defense to damages. In this stage they will be permitted to introduce Lisker's confessions and admissions, as well as statements he made to third parties (such as psychologists), ...


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