Governator blasted by media for commuting Nuñez’s prison sentence
Here’s a roundup of today’s newspaper editorials criticizing ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last-minute commutation for Esteban Nuñez, son of the former state Assembly speaker and Schwarzenegger’s political ally Fabian Nuñez:
Contra Costa Times wrote:
In the end, it turns out that Arnold Schwarzenegger was not only a failure as a governor, he was just another sleazy politician willing to override the criminal courts to benefit his friends.
Los Angeles Times wrote:
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. Schwarzenegger issued only 10 commutations during his tenure, and it strains credibility to suppose that Esteban Nuñez would have been found worthy of such consideration if his father didn’t have a personal relationship with the governor. The commutation was a close judgment call, but given that it benefitted one of his politically connected friends, it leaves a very bad smell.
Sacramento Bee wrote:
In a press release announcing the partial commutation of the sentence, the governor said he gave Núñez a break and not Ryan Jett, a co-defendant, also convicted in the case, because Núñez did not strike the final knife blow that killed 22-year-old Luis Dos Santos and he had no prior felony convictions.
“I do not discount the gravity of the offense,” Schwarzenegger explained in a news release. “But given (Esteban) Núñez’s limited role in Santos’ death and considering that, unlike Jett, Núñez had no prior criminal record prior to the offense, I believe Núñez’s sentence is excessive.”
The governor’s stated reason for reducing Núñez’s sentence would be easier to believe and accept had Schwarzenegger not been so stingy with commutations throughout his tenure as governor. Although he cut the sentence of Sara Kruzan – a woman who was sentenced to life without possibility of parole after killing her pimp at age 16 – he refused to set aside the death penalty for inmate Kevin Cooper, a convicted killer who five appellate court judges now say “is probably innocent of the crimes for which the State of California is about to execute him.”
San Jose Mercury News wrote:
Even if there was no political quid pro quo, it looks terrible. If there had been a June deadline for pardons, given all Schwarzenegger still hoped to accomplish at that point in his final year, he might have acted differently.
So we have a suggestion. All pardons should have to come at least six months before a governor leaves office. That way governors would have to defend them while they’re still working on a legacy. They’d be less likely to risk appearing to be motivated by political interest.
San Francisco Chronicle wrote:
This is a thin argument for a baldly political reward. It reflects poorly on all of the governor’s choices for pardons and commutations, some of which are truly worthy…