Schwarzenegger’s shame

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 3, 2011

On his last day in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger abused the power of his office one last time to reward a political crony and undermine justice.

On his final night in office, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the prison sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Esteban Nunez, who had pleaded guilty to participating in the killing of a college student.

Esteban Nunez, now 21, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the stabbing death of Luis Santos. Schwarzenegger cut the prison term to seven years, noting in a statement that Nunez, although involved in the fight that ended in Santos' death, did not inflict the fatal knife wound. Schwarzenegger cited a finding by the court that it was Esteban Nunez's friend, Ryan Jett,who stabbed Santos, "severing his heart."

What too many of the stories are failing to note is that while Nunez didn’t deliver the fatal blow to Luis Santos, he wasn’t someone who just got in trouble by going along with his friend.  Nunez too had a knife and stabbed two other victims “one in the left shoulder and one in the stomach and back” which makes him just a little bit lucky that he didn’t have two more murder charges to face.

San Diego prosecutors ripped the former governor.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith:

Esteban Núñez — son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez — is a criminal who was sentenced by an experienced and well-respected Superior Court Judge. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the sentence by over half to help his political crony's son. In doing so, he undermined the judicial system and has jeopardized public safety.

This homicide occurred in the City of San Diego. I speak for the overwhelming majority of San Diegans in stating that we are appalled and angry over Mr. Schwarzenegger's conduct. It reflects poorly on him, personally, and on his legacy as governor.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis:

We were shocked to hear of the Governor’s last-minute commutation, which greatly diminishes justice for victim Luis Santos and re-victimizes his family and friends. The District Attorney’s Office was not consulted and the decision comes as the appeals process was continuing.

Before this weekend I would have characterized Schwarzenegger as a failed governor and little more. Now he’s a whole lot more. He’s the worst sort of politician. He’s worse than that crook Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

As Ed Morrissey notes:

The judge refused to reduce the sentence to the 7-11 years Nunez and his family said they expected.  Instead, the Pardonator has decided to give Nunez the low end of what the perpetrator thinks is justice.

To say I’m furious would be an understatement. Schwarzenegger is an odious individual and it would be justice if this act of cronyism and injustice is what he is most remembered for.


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January 2011



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