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.