skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

SD District Attorney Files Suit To Nullify Nunez Commutation

Audio

Aired 5/11/11

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has filed a civil lawsuit in Superior Court, seeking to nullify the Governor's commutation of Esteban Nunez' prison sentence.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announces suit to nullify Nunez' commutation, May 11, 2011.
Enlarge this image

Above: San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announces suit to nullify Nunez' commutation, May 11, 2011.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has filed a civil lawsuit in Superior Court, seeking to nullify the Governor's commutation of Esteban Nunez' prison sentence.

On his last day in office, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commuted Nunez' 16 year prison sentence to seven years.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first-of-its kind in the nation filed by a District Attorney on behalf of the victims.

"We believe a governor who is considering a commutation has a constitutional duty, under Marsy's Law, to include the voices of victims," Dumanis said.

Nunez pleaded guilty to three felony charges in connection with his role in the assault on four young men, including Luis Santos who died as a result of the attack near San Diego State University.

The civil suit names the Governor of California, Director of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Warden of Mule Creek State Prison as defendants and respondents and Esteban Nunez as a real party of interest.

In the suit, the DA's Office argues that the Governor was constitutionally obligated to notify the victims of crime of his intent to commute a sentence and provide them with an opportunity to be heard. As a result of the Governor's failure to do that, the victims' constitutional rights were violated and the Governor's Executive Order commuting Nunez' sentence is void and unenforceable, the suit contends.

Kathy Santos said she's been victimized twice, once by her son's killers and the second time by a governor playing politics.

"Arnold feels good about it. He won't apologize for commuting the sentence," Santos said. "He feels just great about giving the killer a break because he knows his daddy. He disrespected the whole justice system all for a lucky killer with political connections so he can get out early and go do it again."

The Santos family has already filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the state.

Nunez, along with a co-defendant, pleaded guilty in 2010 to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. The assault occurred during a fight near San Diego State University that left Luis Santos dead from knife wounds and three other victims injured.

Nunez' guilty plea was accepted by the court with no promises for leniency and he was sentenced to 16 years in state prison for his crimes.

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | May 11, 2011 at 5:33 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

I was very disappointed in Schwarzeneggar's decision to commute the sentence of Nunez whose complicity in the murder of Luiz Santos is unquestionable.

When a politician abuses the rights of office his decisions should be revoked. It would be like all of America sitting back because the President pardoned Charles Manson.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RPF'

RPF | May 12, 2011 at 7:02 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

I share David65's disappointment in Schwarzenegger's commutation of Esteban Nunez' prison sentence.

On it's merits, Dumanis' argument for revoking commutation is original but appears weak. Does Marcy's Law provide victims with a constitutional right or a statutory right? The courts will decide.

One question that arises from Dumanis' suit is which governor is being sued, Schwarzenneger or Brown? The reporting above doesn't clarify. So, if Dumanis' suit is successful, the commutation decision would fall to Brown whether to pursue a commutation. It's unlikely he would make the same decision as Schwarzenneger.

Isn't Bonnie Dumanis running for mayor of San Diego? Bonnie Dumanis is framing a campaign theme around victims rights. She wants to appear tough on crime and championing the plight of crime victims. So, there is a possible political motive for Dumanis.

Dumanis' prosecutorial decisions have sometimes appeared arbitrary and determined by political alliances and affiliations. She appears to have a penchant for prosecuting rank and file public employee corruption while not prosecuting elected officials for corruption.

According to Voice of San Diego, 85/88 corruption cases involve low level public employees or attorney misconduct despite Dumanis' own definition of the target: "elected officials, politicians and their staff."

Other examples of Duman's arbitrariness would be Dumanis' long fight with Prop 215 (medical marijuana) and her unwise prosecution of Cynthia Sommer (Dumanis was forced to drop the charges.)

I don't disagree that the Nunez commutation was the product of a political favor. I support the rights of victims to have their voices heard. I think Dumanis is sincere in her support.

But I also suspect Dumanis is grandstanding in the name of a campaign theme.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'ICare'

ICare | May 14, 2011 at 6:54 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

I was very disappointed in Schwarzenegger's commutation of Esteban Nunez' prison sentence. Nonetheless, Bonnie Dumanis is true to her integrity and is completely doing the right thing by suing Arnold and the gang. It takes guts to make a move like this. We need a person with guts like Bonnie to lead us forward.

( | suggest removal )