Patterico's Pontifications

1/3/2011

Ahhnold Reduces Sentence of Fabian Nunez’s Son

Filed under: Crime,General,Morons — Patterico @ 6:49 pm

Without even consulting the D.A.:

San Diego County District Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said Monday she was shocked to learn that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had reduced the prison sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez.

The decision “greatly diminishes justice for victim Luis Santos and re-victimizes his family and friends,” Dumanis said in a prepared statement. “The district attorney’s office was not consulted, and the decision comes as the appeals process was continuing.”

I am currently preparing an opposition to a clemency request. It is standard procedure to consult the District Attorney’s Office before considering such a request. I have heard a top trial lawyer in our office talk about presenting the case against Tookie Williams’s commutation to Ahhnold, and guess what? he told the Governator a few things he hadn’t known.

But apparently close analysis of the case was not an important part of this particular process:

Like Dumanis, Fred Santos [the victim’s father] said he had no warning that the decision was imminent or even under discussion at the governor’s office. “We’re just little people,” he said. “I guess we don’t count.”

Charles Sevilla, the San Diego attorney who prepared the commutation request for Esteban Nuñez, said he is “surprised and gratified” that it was accepted by the governor.

. . . .

Sevilla said his role was limited to filling out the paperwork — “sort of a fill in the blanks.” He said he was never quizzed by the governor or his staff, never asked to be part of an oral presentation and never asked for additional documentation.

Gee. If it wasn’t a close look at the facts of the case that persuaded Ahhnold, what could it possibly have been? An L.A. Times editorial has a hint:

Nuñez, who is now a business partner with Schwarzenegger’s chief political advisor, worked closely with the governor during his term as speaker.

Ah, I see now.

Ahhnold’s decision mocks the justice system. His handling of the clemency process in this case reeks of disinterest for the facts, and concern for a crony. Even the L.A. Times editorial writer — who is a sucker for the pathetic claims of innocence of a Death Row inmate who is guilty as sin (more in an upcoming post) — is skeptical of Ahhnold’s decision:

The younger Nuñez is no prince. He and his friends went looking for a fight after being kicked out of a campus frat party, and according to prosecutors, Nuñez stabbed two other victims, who survived. He also allegedly destroyed evidence by burning clothing worn on the night of the fight and throwing knives into the Sacramento River.

When you can’t even convince the editors of the L.A. Times to be lenient with a violent criminal, you’ve really gone off the rails. Ahhnold.

Thanks to Bradley J. Fikes.

64 Responses to “Ahhnold Reduces Sentence of Fabian Nunez’s Son”

  1. Seriously, I am disgusted by the editorial’s reference to Kevin Cooper, an absolutely guilty Death Row inmate, being worthy of having his sentence commuted.

    I will have to do a post on that.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  2. I think this confirms that Arnold will not run for office again.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  3. I am so disgusted by how bad he’s been as Governor that I can’t even watch his movies anymore. Maybe some people can distinguish between actor and politician but I can’t.

    steve (116925)

  4. Don’t blame me. I voted for McClintock.

    Pragmatism.

    Patterico (599a77)

  5. and yet people berated me for not voting for Smeggy W

    4 more years of this sort of wanker wankering about with an R on his or her chest would’ve just been disheartening

    disheartening I say

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  6. According to the LAT,

    In all of the cases, the governor cited evidence that the convicts had rehabilitated themselves.

    How on earth would the Governor know this about anyone who has served less than two years of his sentence?

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  7. Don’t blame me, I voted for Rick Perry over a great democratic challenger and a relatively good primary opponent.

    texans can throw a dart at their ballots and wind up better than you poor surfer dudes.

    Skipping over the people’s representative, their DA, is impossible to explain. Arnold has descended from weak and ineffective to corrupt and disgraceful.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  8. He really has turned into a blancmange, I thought you said you voted for Whitman, pikachu

    narciso (6075d0)

  9. Whitman was running against Ahhnold??

    I voted for McClintock when everyone else was saying they liked him but he couldn’t win.

    Pikachu.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  10. This is why i held off on mentioning. I had a feeling you would have a deeper perspective on this than i did.

    I smell political payback.

    Anyway, good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Aaron Worthing (1a6294)

  11. It’s a big middle finger to everyone who’s not politically connected, and especially the Santos family. If anyone thought phony Arnold cared about the public, this should open their eyes. He only cares about himself and his buddies. The public be damned.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  12. You know looking over this profile of her, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnie_Dumanis
    I feel a little like Kissinger said about Iran
    and Iraq

    narciso (6075d0)

  13. For the sake of discussion, what would be the sentence for a first-time-caught offender who non-fatally stabs two people in a fight? (No, I do not think that Nuñez deserves less than the 16 years to which he was originally sentenced.)

    Ira (28a423)

  14. This is the other side of the coin, just to be fair;
    http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/government/article_2c1a907c-f8ba-11de-8d3f-001cc4c03286.html

    narciso (6075d0)

  15. Arnold was a serious disappointment although we really shouldn’t have expected anything from an actor. Reagan was great but I wondered why he did not do more to control spending by the Democratic Congress. They love approbation, even Reagan.

    Mike K (568408)

  16. The VOSD pieces on Dumanis rely heavily on anonymous sources, which in my opinion are poor journalism and may represent an agenda at work.

    That said, there’s enough on the record not from anonymous sources to give pause about the rectitude of Dumanis’ actions. Don Bauder of the SD Reader has more.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  17. I see what you mean Brother Bradley, by the second segment, they engage in all too familiar style of
    derisionhttp://www.voiceofsandiego.org/government/article_2b9b20ce-f998-11de-b5fe-001cc4c002e0.html

    narciso (6075d0)

  18. no I voted for Carly even though she’s a douchey douchey McCain ho but I never saw the point of voting for meg plus I thought it was appalling how she tried to buy the governorship

    appalling quite apart from being very very poor judgment on her part

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  19. That’s a defensible position, happyfeet. I’d have voted for her, even if Cali as a state seems hopeless, but mainly I’d be voting against Brown.

    I agree with your basic sentiment on Whitman. Fiorina would have made an excellent Senator, and I’m impressed she did as well as she managed to. California had a clear choice in that case.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  20. ‘In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king’
    my congressperson is Wasserman-Schultz, so I have
    an inkling of what you go through

    narciso (6075d0)

  21. carly wouldn’t have further damaged the Team R brand I don’t think plus, as you schooled me, she was pro the oil drillings

    That’s what convinced me to vote for her.

    Meg was against the oil drillings while claiming to have “business acumen.” Of course she also lost somewhere around 160 million monies on this deal.

    Thank god you don’t have her “business acumen.”

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  22. Ebay sucks, too.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  23. Unbelievably craven. I knew Arnold was clueless but not evil!

    He protects geese from being overfed, he supports the enviro wackos by banning detergent, light bulbs and the fat that makes pastry good, but he DOESN’T CARE about a kid who was killed just because these young men felt like killing someone. Santos was not even at the party that kicked Nunez out!

    Like you say, if even the LAT is against you, you have hit rock bottom.

    Patricia (3aa1fd)

  24. Patricia, were you the one who suggested TSP with detergent? Because that really proved effective in my dishwasher.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  25. What happened to Nunez’ co-defendants? I suppose they are left to do their full sentence. This shows it was pure cronyism and not based on some b.s. rational.

    Arizona Bob (e8af2b)

  26. This a page out of clintons playbook. He intends to run for senator and is buying hispanic support.

    dunce (b89258)

  27. Arnold has cemented his place as the real girly man of Sacramento politics.
    It’s so bad I can’t even call him a putz!

    AD-RtR/OS! (ab7109)

  28. Senator?
    On what ticket?
    The GOP won’t have him, and the Dems think of him as a fool.
    Perhaps he’ll run as a Green after SB-32 –
    though that might be difficult after its full implementation drags CA further into recession.

    AD-RtR/OS! (ab7109)

  29. The Commutator: Your assailant will be back!

    Icy Texan (fd5426)

  30. I’m not going to spend the time to get acquainted with the case, but to do this without consulting the D.A., when there’s such a huge conflict of interest (or at any other time), is a dereliction of duty, and it is obscene to the victim’s family, to the victim, and to society.

    Schwarzenegger deserves to have his reputation dragged through the mud for this, and on a personal ethical level, not simply political.

    Bad economic decisions are one thing; this is something else.

    Christoph (8ec277)

  31. Ahhnold’s decision mocks the justice system

    And demonstrates that in twenty-first century California, who you know is more important, on some level, than what you have done.

    This is disgusting.

    aphrael (9802d6)

  32. Seriously, I am disgusted by the editorial’s reference to Kevin Cooper, an absolutely guilty Death Row inmate, being worthy of having his sentence commuted.

    Kevin Cooper.

    Was that not the dude who requested DNA test to prove his innocence, and when the test proved guilt, he changed the story to claim that the police planted evidence?

    Michael Ejercito (249c90)

  33. Hoity toity. Connections and corruption.

    Vermont Neighbor (93f242)

  34. I just heard on KFI that the San Diego District Attorney’s Office is looking at whether the governor’s actions were even legal given that he did not consult with the D.A.’s office prior to the decision being made.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  35. Agree with Patterico. This is unjust.

    Angeleno (f6f098)

  36. Dana, thanks for that news. I hope it’s true.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  37. This feels too much like this;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Vignali

    narciso (6075d0)

  38. Comment by Dana — 1/4/2011 @ 8:56 am

    Just as the President’s Pardon Power is unlimited, I would suspect that there are very few, if any, restrictions on a Governor’s power of commutation and pardon.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  39. The only restrictions I’m aware of have to do with repeat felons and that he has to notify the legislature.

    Sadly, Arnold probably has the power to commute a close friend’s son who pled guilty to stabbing an innocent person, without bothering to discuss the matter with prosecutors. And that power needs to be altered. At the very least, the commute and pardon process should be more structured and last minute applications should be held over to the next executive.

    Arnold didn’t even wait for the appeals to elapse, showing contempt for the process.

    More power to Dumanis if she thinks she can fight this, but I’m pessimistic about that.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  40. Arnold can now move to Illinois, where political corruption is regarded as a feature, not a bug. His move will raise the moral level of both states.

    Bar Sinister (4d83c8)

  41. Article 5, Section 8(a) of the California Constitution says:

    Subject to application procedures provided by statute, the Governor, on conditions the Governor deems proper, may grant a reprieve, pardon, and commutation, after sentence, except in case of impeachment. The Governor shall report to the Legislature each reprieve, pardon, and commutation granted, stating the pertinent facts and the reasons for granting it. The Governor may not grant a pardon or commutation to a person twice convicted of a felony except on recommendation of the Supreme Court, 4 judges concurring.

    This indicates that the pardon power in California is quite restricted: twice-felons can only be pardoned if the Supreme Court asks for it, and single-felons can only be pardoned when the procedures set down by statute allow it.

    That said, Penal Code Section 4803 says:

    When an application is made to the Governor for pardon or commutation of sentence, or when an application has been referred to the Board of Prison Terms, he or it may require the judge of the court before which the conviction was had, or the district attorney by whom the action was prosecuted, to furnish him or it, without delay, with a summarized statement of the facts proved on the trial, and of any other facts having reference to the propriety of granting or refusing said application, together with his recommendation for or against the granting of the same and his reason for such recommendation.

    The operative phrase here is may require … the district attorney.

    That seems to make consulting with the DA an elective choice which the Governor can make or can not make, at his discretion.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  42. Aphrael, would you want this power to be modified?

    I think these last minute pardons (and commutations) are sleazy and an attempt to escape the will of the people, but I also realize that a justified pardon can be politically difficult, so perhaps some think it’s good for governors to be able to make last minute pardons (obviously, no one reasonable thinks this is a great example).

    I can think of a number of good reforms to this. Such as: All pardons that occur after election day are held in limbo until the next office holder takes power, and s/he can veto the pardon or do nothing (in which case the pardon is valid).

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  43. Dustin: my sense is that political pressure causes governors to not use the pardon power as much as they should, in an ideal world. So I wouldn’t want the power modified to make it more difficult, no.

    Which is to say: I accept this abuse of the power as a price we pay for the good uses of the power … and, at the same time, I feel free to denounce this particular abuse and the man responsible for it as corrupt.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  44. It does no good to condemn Arnold for his association with sleezy pols such as Nunez, since he rose to prominance in the world of competitive weight lifting/body building (which sometimes makes pro-boxing seem on the up-and-up), and then solidified that stature in Hollyweird, where nothing is as it appears.
    So, all-in-all, Arnold is what he is; and we’re well rid of him.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  45. I actually agree with you Aphrael, at least in the sense that pardons probably are not used as much as they ought to be because of the lack of a political upside. But all powers should have some kind of check on them, IMO. I think at least some potential for a veto of that power really would be helpful. Perhaps simply the ability to empanel a group of people to reconsider a pardon made by a lame duck.

    Regardless, even people who support pardon power generally are right to be angry at this abuse. The more I read about it the more pissed off I’m getting. Nunez committed a murder, pled to manslaughter in a deal for a reduced sentence, and THAT’S been commuted down. Arnold’s explanation is that it was someone else’s knife that dealt the death blow, as though Nunez wasn’t attacking the victims too. Nunez intimidated witnesses and destroyed evidence. He blamed the victims. He shows no sign of reform. He’s just the son of Arnold’s close friend.

    This guy is probably going to hurt someone in a few years, and Arnold won’t have to pay for that. It reminds me of Huckabee granting pardons if a certain group of people brought them to his office, in a shady arrangement.

    When you stab young people to death for no reason, you should spend the rest of your life in prison. 16 years was not a severe punishment just because it was the maximum penalty for the lower charge the cohorts pled to.

    And I’m sure Aphrael agrees that the stench of these crooked deals makes it much less politically viable to issue more needed pardons. Brown will probably stay far away from this power for quite a while. Arnold is denying justice to worthy recipients. Bush behaved somewhat similarly, thanks to Clinton’s BS.

    I think the best user of this power in California was probably Ronald Reagan, who was actually a thorough administrator more than just a political caricature.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  46. And I’m sure Aphrael agrees that the stench of these crooked deals makes it much less politically viable to issue more needed pardons

    I think that’s clearly true.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  47. I hope the SAn Diego DA rips this apart.

    (Yes, Dustin, I brought up the TSP issue. Glad it’s working. I now use Finish Gel and it seems to work on its own, just adding vinegar in the rinse. I hate the enviro laws still tho!!)

    Patricia (3aa1fd)

  48. Thanks Patricia. It’s cheap and easy, and I run my dishwasher on a much shorter cycle now. What used to be a huge soap residue on the dishwasher door is now just a clean dishwasher door.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  49. This is just a cousin to Tarp’s bailing out of undeserving millionaires with political connections. Our idiot politicians will get away with this crap so long as we have a good economy. I mean WHEN WE HAD a good economy. Now it’s all about getting yours before the people come for a reckoning. And neither party is going to come out of that.

    East Bay Jay (2fd7f7)

  50. #32,

    Was that not the dude who requested DNA test to prove his innocence, and when the test proved guilt, he changed the story to claim that the police planted evidence?

    Well, that is consistent with how an innocent person would act. Not that I’m claiming he’s innocent, of course.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  51. This cholo wannabe stabbed people! He will serve 4 years since they give much reduced sentences due to overcrowding etc. Crime pays…if your daddy is a political playah.

    Did he think he was a Shark in a Broadway play and that it was ok? Apparently, he was right…..-the little cretin. I would like to hear from the stab victims…

    Never liked the Auhnold, he has charisma but that was never enough credentials for me.

    dudeabides (4af6f8)

  52. Just heard Bonnie Dumanis interviewed. Off the top of my head here were her main points:

    *She believes it will be a long shot in getting this overturned but won’t yet give up.

    *Her office’s research confirmed that it is not the law that the prosecutor’s office be notified before a governor makes the decision to reduce a sentence. It is however standard practice to do so and it is also a safeguard for the governor making the decision. The interviewer pointed out that since the governor is not a lawyer, it would only benefit him by having done so and she agreed (that is, if his primary interest were being very thorough and prudent with the decision being made…)

    *She felt that the way the governor behaved in this undermined the public’s faith in the justice system.

    *She said she was absolutely positive that her office had not been contacted in any way beforehand as had they, they would have immediately contacted the family.

    I’ll see if I can find a link from the radio station.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  53. So she knows the law is against her, but she’s going to bring action anyway?! For a DA to bring a frivolous lawsuit, using public funds, seems to me worse than a governor giving a pardon for improper reasons.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  54. No, she did not (nor did I) state that she would bring action but that they were going to continue their research. She was very careful and deliberate in her statement. (and remember, as I stated, I am going off what I could remember off the top of my head).

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  55. She knows it’s a longshot, Milhouse. And I think she’s doing her job. It’s a political office, so the people have their say in this matter.

    I don’t understand what puts this anywhere near the immorality scale of letting someone get a break on their murder confession just because they are your friend’s kiddo.

    There is a serious legal reason behind Dumanis’s behavior, so even though it is a loser legally I don’t call it frivolous. Perhaps I’m in error, but I know I’m right on the morality.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  56. Dana’s right that there’s a big difference between making a research effort, and acting.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  57. I appreciated her statement regarding the governor’s actions having undermined the public’s faith in our system of justice. While the Constitution certainly permits him to make decisions as he did, it feels like an outrageous abuse of power to make such a major decision with such an (in the non-legalese world) obvious conflict of interest.

    (I also forgot to mention that Ms. Dumanis at the end stated (or the newscaster followed up her last sentence) that the governor’s office has contacted her office with apologies for not having notified her or the family prior to the announcement. Interestingly, IIRC, the statement was not that he hadn’t notified her prior to the decision being made. (I’ll need to find the interview link to confirm clarification of the ‘prior’ statement but either way, he did contact her today with apologies).

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  58. Link to today’s interview with Bonnie Dumanis on Nunez commutation.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  59. Thanks for the link. I think Milhouse will probably find Dumanis’s comments to be reasonable, too. She’s very clear and careful about her comments.

    Just a crummy situation.

    She also does a good job justifying why 16 years was the appropriate sentence, and why Nunez is equally responsible for the killing as the person he acted in concert with (this is what Arnold seems to disagree with).

    She ends the interview with ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’ about the sentence. This is a done deal.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  60. and why Nunez is equally responsible for the killing as the person he acted in concert with (this is what Arnold seems to disagree with).

    Dustin, was your understanding from the way Dumanis phrased her comment regarding this, that it is the law – I believe she used the illustration of gang members all partaking in a crime are held equally responsible? If so, then wouldn’t the governor clearly be wrong on this part of the issue?

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  61. Yes, Dumanis said that it is an every day legal issue that when thugs act in concert and someone is murdered, they are all culpable. It’s called the ‘felony murder rule’.

    However, I do think it’s legitimate to consider someone’s criminal record, or their particular role in the situation, when determining someone’s sentence.

    the situation gets more complicated because they didn’t plea to murder, but rather manslaughter, and received the maximum sentence. Arnold is saying Nunez should receive less of a sentence than his cohort, but this assumes his cohort got the perfect sentence for his crime. I think this last part is particularly ridiculous. When you stab someone in the heart, you should receive 25 to life at minimum, under CA law.

    So I guess Arnold is saying Nunez should get more of a break than the break his friend got, but in my view, this is just an ad hoc justification.

    It was a horrible crime, including Nunez’s, and it is an absolute shame to see the victim’s family treated like this, with no notification or recourse.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  62. Let me add, I’m not an expert on this matter. Not even close to one.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  63. Between this and Marc Rich, I’d like to see a ban on pardons and commutations at any point during the lame duck session, unless the judgment that is the subject of the pardon or commutation was itself handed down during that period. If California’s most famous girlyman really thought his buddy’s kid deserved a lighter sentence, why wait until the eleventh hour? He could have commuted it anytime he wanted, so why not make that before the November election, when his party (albeit not Schwarzenegger himself) would be accountable to the voters?

    Xrlq (425ece)


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