Meet James Hugney: An Innocent Man Who has been Locked in Jail for 35 Years

Criminal justice is a human endeavor.  Thus mistakes are made.  Sometimes this results in innocent people getting executed or spending years in prison for a crime they simply did not commit. One such story is that of Mr. James Hugney. In 1978, a fire ripped through Hugney’s home in Harrisburg.  Hugeny’s son, James Jr. suffered burns on 98% of his body and dies a few days later.  Hugney was accused of arson and murder.  At the trial, prosecutors accused Hugney of pouring gasoline around his son’s bed.  Based on the limited fire science of that time, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Currently, this case is being litigated by The McShane Firm. As you can see in the recent news reports by ABC27, there is significant evidence to show that this was not an arson and that Hugney was in fact innocent:




This is an evident tragedy. An innocent man losing 35 years of his life is unimaginable. Nothing can be done to fix the damages caused to him. The only we can do is look to the future and end this grave injustice. In that YOU can help.

You can help in four main ways.

1. Positive thoughts and prayers.


2. Sharing this website on social media with the hashtag #FreeHugney and the group phrase of “What would it be like to be locked up for 35 years for a crime that you never did? #FreeHugney”

3. Liking the #FreeHugney Facebook Fan Page.

4. Consider donating money through for his expert costs. His lawyers do not get any of the money. The lawyers are working for free.

Where does all of the donation money go?
This project is funded through GoFundMe. The site uses secure payment methods such as WePay and PayPal. Money donated through has the following fees


Where does all of the donation money go?
This project is funded through GoFundMe. The site uses secure payment methods such as WePay and PayPal. Money donated through has the following fees
  • 5% of the donation goes to GoFundMe for administering and publicizing the cause
  • Each donation has a 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction fee.
  • So in total fees, there is 7.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
All of the rest of the donated money is distributed as described below.
Or if you prefer to donate in a way that 100% of the money goes to FreeHugney, you may donate through The McShane Firm, LLC in two ways:
  1. Call 1-866-MCSHANE or 717-657-3900 and tell anyone who answers the phone that you would like to make a donation to FreeHugney. You can use a check, credit card or debit card.
  2. Go click here to get to a secure pay site. In the area that reads “What account is this payment for?,” please write “FreeHugney.”


Who controls the donation money?
All of the net donation money is in control of The McShane Firm, LLC and will be deposited into The McShane Firm, LLC IOLTA account. An Interest On Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) is a trust account held in an FDIC approved bank. It is guaranteed through the FDIC as well as insured by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court IOLTA Fund Board against any improper lawyer use of funds held in it.
What will my donation be used for?
The expert witness fees for review and retesting, if possible. The experts will need to go through the thousands of pages of the case file, do research, write reports, perhaps re-examine evidence, and also fly to Harrisburg for several hearings. This is a lot of work. It is also expensive. Importantly, the more experts that are retained and come to the same independent conclusion, the harder it is for the Office of the District Attorney and any appellate courts to find other than the scientific truth: there is no arson. Any additional money that is raised above and beyond what is needed will be reserved for appeals and other court-related costs. Again, no money goes to his volunteer legal team.
Justin McShane

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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