San Diego County DA Bonnie Dumanis files lawsuit to reinstate Esteban Nunez’s 16-year sentence
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed a civil lawsuit yesterday seeking to overturn then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s controversial 11th hour commutation for Esteban Nunez, the son of former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.
Esteban Nunez was sentenced to 16 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter charges for his role in the beating and fatal stabbing of Luis Santos, a 22-year-old student at San Diego Mesa College. Two other victims, Evan Henderson and Keith Robertson, were also stabbed and seriously wounded during the altercation that took place after Esteban Nunez and his friends were turned away from a party near San Diego State University. On his last day in office, Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order AE-1200 that reduced Esteban Nunez’s sentence to 7 years.
“Once again, we are going to court seeking justice for the victims in this case – Luis Santos, Evan Henderson, Keith Robertson, Brandon Scheerer and their families,” said Dumanis.
The lawsuit argues Schwarzenegger’s commutation is “constitutionally void and unenforceable” because the former Governor failed to notify the victims, who have a “right to be heard, upon request, at any proceeding involving…a post-conviction release decision, or any proceeding in which a right of the victim is at issue” under the 2008 Marsy’s Law.
“The manner in which Mr. Schwarzenegger commuted Nunez’s sentence was in violation of the constitutional rights of the victims and in violation of his duty to uphold the laws of the state of California,” according to the lawsuit.
“Marsy’s Law was designed to keep people from being re-victimized and the former Governor’s actions violated that law,” said Dumanis. “We don’t argue with the Governor’s constitutional ability to grant pardons or commutations. Historically, the Governor was entrusted with this power in order to represent the conscience of the community and to insure against miscarriages of justice. Instead, this last-minute commutation made without all the facts or input from the parties, only fueled the public’s mistrust of government and greatly diminished justice.”