OC Register: "Editorial: No more crony commutations"

In this June 13, 2007, file photo, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right, and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, joke around before a legislative group photo is taken at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. With just hours left in office, Schwarzenegger used his executive powers to grant clemency to the son of one of his chief political friends, Fabian Nunez. The son was involved in a fatal stabbing in San Diego and had pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges. ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOCalifornians were outraged when Arnold Schwarzenegger, hours before leaving the governor's office Jan. 3, commuted the manslaughter sentence of Esteban Nuñez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez. In 2008, Esteban Nuñez, then 18, and some friends got in a fight in San Diego that left Luis Dos Santos, 22, dead. Nuñez was given 16 years in prison, which Mr. Schwarzenegger reduced to seven years.

Outrage was especially high because the governor did not inform the victim's family until after the commutation had been given. Now, in an interview in Newsweek, Mr. Schwarzenegger says, "My office definitely made a mistake in not notifying the parents beforehand ... and I'm ultimately responsible." His office made the mistake? Any decent person would have been concerned, first, about the victim's family.

Assembly Bill 648 introduced by Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego, requires that, 30 days before a commutation is signed, a governor must notify the county district attorney where the crime had been committed; that the D.A. must submit a written recommendation on whether the commutation should be granted, and that the D.A. must notify victims or their families.


Ashley Temm