Shortly before leaving office in January 2011, Schwarzenegger cut by more than half the 16-year prison term Esteban Nunez was given for his role in a fatal brawl near San Diego State University. Nunez is the son of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who had close ties to Schwarzenegger.
While Sacramento County Judge Lloyd Connelly said Schwarzenegger acted within his executive powers, the governor's decision to reduce the prison term was "repugnant to the bulk of the citizenry of this state," U-T San Diego reported.
Connelly said a 2008 constitutional amendment does not require a governor to notify victims and their families before granting clemency.
The family of the victim, 22-year-old Luis Santos, said they still want the sentence commutation tossed.
"The attorney general's office fought for corruption and they won," Kathy Santos, the victim's mother, said outside the court. "Where's the justice for our son? He was murdered. Two conniving politicians got away with it."