Kicking off a potentially sweeping legal battle, a lawsuit filed Thursday says former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had the right to commute the prison sentence of a political friend's son but violated victim rights guaranteed under a voter-approved measure.
The lawsuit filed in Sacramento by the family of Luis Santos, who was killed in an attack involving former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez's son, invokes Marsy's Law rights that victims be notified when a reduction in sentencing is considered.
Santos' parents spoke Thursday outside the Sacramento County courthouse.
"By commuting the sentence of one of our son's killers, Arnold Schwarzenegger committed a gross injustice against Luis and my family, against the families of the other victims of the crime, against the people of California," said Santos' father, Fred Santos of Concord.
A Schwarzenegger spokesman said the former governor had no comment on the suit, which also names the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Brad Patton, defense attorney for Fabian Núñez's son Esteban, said: "In my opinion, Marsy's Law does not have any application to the executive's right to commute sentences. It applies to the judicial branch."
John Myers, professor at Sacramento's McGeorge School of Law, said Marsy's Law, which in 2008 amended the state constitution, doesn't refer specifically to the governor, which could weaken the suit's argument.
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