Readers React

Fabian Nuñez's connections help his son but deny a grieving family justice

To the editor: This breathtaking story by Christopher Goffard reminds us of the limitless power and influence held by unscrupulous political people and weak, vicious boys with money, grudges and knives. Under the guise of candor and being a devoted parent, former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez excuses his whatever-works string-pulling to secure son Esteban a soon-to-end prison term after the 2008 killing of Luis Santos. ("The favor," two-part series, Dec. 21 and 23)

But the candid photograph taken by Denis Poroy of Associated Press, showing well-dressed father and son Nuñez — sharp-eyed menacing Fabian leading with feckless Esteban behind — says it all: My dad will take care of it.

You hardly notice the sign in the background reading, "Justice for Luis."

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman, La Jolla

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To the editor: The fathers of the two young men were advised to avoid each other during the murder trial. Set up as irreconcilable adversaries by the system, what could seem more normal?

Restorative justice, now gaining credence in California in a variety of contexts, would invite the two men to consider a dialogue about what happened and how to make the remaining anguish as right as possible.

Both men have lost much. One lost a son to a senseless murder; the other's son is doing time in prison and will face daunting odds against long-term employment because of to his felony conviction.

Fred Santos and Nuñez may never be friends but might find profound relief in something as simple as respectful conversation.

Thomas F. Lee, Monterey

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To the editor: I was nauseated after reading about the unlikely friendship between Fabian Nuñez and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nuñez should be ashamed of himself. He stated that each generation should be better than the last, yet he uses his power to get his son's sentencing commuted. What has his son learned? As far as Schwarzenegger is concerned, this should follow him to the end of his days.

To Kathy and Fred Santos: You will be in my thoughts forever.

Jeanine Moritz, Huntington Beach

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To the editor: The series leaves me feeling sick. The reason is not that young Esteban got off easy. I don't know whether he did.

It's because countless other brown, black and white underprivileged and unconnected youths spend decades and sometimes the rest of their lives in prison for lack of Esteban's connections.

Konrad Moore, Bakersfield

The writer is Kern County public defender. The views expressed are his own.

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To the editor: My heart goes out to the Santos family. They suspected from the start that it was unlikely they would get equal treatment under the law and that the rich and powerful consider themselves above the law.

Kudos to the judge for treating both convicted men equally.

Shame on Schwarzenegger and Nuñez for abusing the power of their offices to prove to the Santos family that there is one system of justice for the rich and powerful and another for everyone else.

Karen Dempsey, Granada Hills

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To the editor: Nuñez was right in saying: "I see how deeply ineffective our justice system is. I see how easily it can be manipulated."

He and Schwarzenegger are embarrassments.

Chuck Trudeau, Shadow Hills

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