A couple of recent developments related to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s controversial commutation of convicted felon Esteban Nuñez ‘s prison sentence:

A move to restrict governors’ power to commute a prison sentence took a step closer to being reality. The state Assembly yesterday passed a bill that would require the governor to inform district attorneys in the jurisdiction where a conviction occurred at least 30 days before they commute a sentence. I wrote about the bill back in January.

The bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman Marty Block and now moves on to the Senate, would also require the local DA to notify the victims of the crime for which the prisoner was sentenced.

Esteban Nuñez , the son of former State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in 2009 in relation to the stabbing death of 22-year-old Luis Santos in a drunken fight near San Diego State University. Nuñez was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, but Schwarzenegger took the extraordinary step of reducing his sentence to seven years.

That move angered District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who announced shortly after the commutation that she was working with Block to craft the new legislation. Dumanis argued that Schwarzenegger had made the commutation after hearing only one side of the argument — from Nuñez ‘s legal team. The new legislation will ensure that in the future the governor hears a prosecutor’s side of the story.

Not that it would have made much difference to Schwarzenegger’s decision, if you read this profile of Schwarzenegger in Newsweek.

He’s quoted as saying:

I feel good about the decision … I happen to know the kid really well. I don’t apologize about it … There’s criticism out there. I think it’s just because of our working relationship and all that. It maybe was kind of saying, ‘That’s why he did it.’ Well, hello! I mean, of course you help a friend.

It’s a fascinating read, which delves into the commutation’s effect on Schwarzenegger’s legacy.

Please contact Will Carless directly at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.550.5670 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/willcarless.

Will Carless

Will Carless was formerly the head of investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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