Innocent man freed after 36 years on the condition he plead guilty to time served . . . and that’s justice?

Let’s file this in the “maybe-it’s-just-me” file.

(From pennlive.com)

Attorney for man freed after nearly 36 years in prison thankful ‘criminal justice system worked’

“This is a great day for James Hugney, a great day for justice, and a great day for science,” said Justin McShane, of The McShane Firm, in a news release. “While no one can give him back the nearly 36 years of his life that he lost, at least Mr. Hugney has his freedom now.”

James Hugney

James Hugney, 70

The science used to convict and sentence Hugney to life in prison for the 1978 fire that killed his 16-year-old son was “based on popularly held beliefs and myths of the time that modern science has totally refuted,” McShane, a lawyer and scientist, said in the release.

McShane filed a motion to set aside the decades-old conviction after three international fire scientists could not conclude the fire as an arson using modern fire science.

County President Judge Richard A. Lewis then granted Hugney a new trial in which Hugney immediately pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and arson charges. Hugney was then sentenced to 15 to 30 years in state prison on the new pleas, but was ordered released on time served on Friday.

Hugney entered his guilty pleas willingly, but he did not admit to committing any crime, Lewis noted in his order on the case.  read more

McShane lauded District Attorney Edward Marsico Jr. and First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo and said ‘without them the outcome would not have happened.’

‘If I had to sum it up in one word … it’d be thankful,’ McShane said. ‘Thankful that the criminal justice system worked.’

Thankful!?!  How is it “just” for the prosecutors to take away this man’s freedom for 36 years–half his life–based on their reliance on flawed science and then require him to take “a deal.” For anyone to applaud this as an example of justice–least of all a defense attorney–is using a different dictionary than we have on our shelf.