Ink Out Loud: This time, Ellen was right
Ink Out Loud
I knew a woman named Ellen. She worked at the local hardware store. When she expressed her feelings about injustice, she would say, “Damn it, right is right and wrong is wrong.” She would repeat the statement three or four times for especially troubling topics.
I usually tend to think there’s just a little more to every situation that cannot be reduced that simply. But, there’s always an exception to every rule.
This time, Ellen would have been correct. This is just wrong.
At the beginning of this month the Los Angeles Times reported the following: “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger waited until his last day in office to announce the commutation of convicted killer Esteban Nuñez, the son of a powerful political ally, and then gave this explanation: ‘Of course you help a friend.’ His decision in January 2011 to reduce Nuñez’s sentence from 16 years to seven years sparked outraged editorials, swift legislation, an outcry from victims’ rights groups and widespread condemnation from Democrats and Republicans. This month, a California appeals court said the former governor’s action was nonetheless within his rights, and upheld the reduced prison term. ‘We are compelled to conclude that, while Schwarzenegger’s conduct could be seen as deserving of censure and grossly unjust, it was not illegal,’ Associate Judge Harry Hull Jr. wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.”’
In a nutshell, here’s how this story began: Luis Santos, 22, a San Diego Mesa College student, was killed in October 2008 by Esteban Nuñez and Ryan Jett.
According to the L.A. Times, “They initially faced the possibility of life in prison on murder charges, but pleaded guilty to lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and assault. A judge gave them both 16 years in prison.”
One of the killers was well-connected. His daddy is former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez.
Fabian Nuñez said the trial judge was too harsh with his son.
“I used my relationship with the governor to help my own son,” Fabian Nuñez told the L.A. Times last year. “I’d do it again.”
If this sounds like some arrogant political privilege run amok, I assert it most assuredly is just that.
Esteban Nuñez is slated for release in 2016.
The victim’s father, Fred Santos, told members of the media, “Justice is very elusive.”
When the news broke, I watched the Santos’ tearful family on television with their eyes begging and pleading for justice in their son’s name.
Without thinking, I started humming the David Bowie song, “This is not America.”
The L.A. Times reported: “The San Diego District Attorney’s office had not been notified in advance that the governor was considering a commutation, and the California Legislature quickly passed a law mandating that a district attorney’s office must get at least 10 days’ notice.
The District Attorney’s office, along with the Santos family, sued to block the commutation, arguing that the governor’s failure to notify them in advance was a violation of Marsy’s Law, also known as the Victims’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008. The law says that victims have a right to be heard at parole or other post-conviction release proceedings before inmates could be released early. A Sacramento judge ruled in 2012 the commutation was ‘distasteful’ and ‘repugnant,’ but legal, saying the law as it was written at the time did not apply to clemency proceedings. In upholding that decision the appeals court seemed to share some of that distaste for the governor’s action. ‘Backroom dealings were apparent.”’
Perhaps the most offensive aspect of this case is the sense of entitlement Schwarzenegger and Fabian Nuñez outwardly exhibit. Both men should, at the very least, feel ashamed for twisting and manipulating the justice system to suit their personal desires and agendas.
They’ve teamed up to further punish and bully an innocent, grieving family and your tax dollars paid their salaries while they plotted against their constituents.
Right is right and wrong is wrong.
“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.” — Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws
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