From her perch as Luzerne County district attorney, Jacqueline Musto Carroll agreed that juvenile defendants convicted as part of a corrupt "cash-for-kids" scandal ought to have their cases thrown out.
But not all of them.
Under Thursday's sweeping Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, about 6,500 juveniles convicted over a five-year period by former Luzerne County Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. will have their records expunged.
That leaves about 100 cases that may be reopened - serious offenses in which the defendant was represented by counsel, and is either still incarcerated or involved in the juvenile justice system through probation, treatment, or unpaid fines or restitution.
Citing "a travesty of justice," the state's highest court followed the recommendation of Judge Arthur Grim of Berks County, whom it appointed in February to review all cases involving Ciavarella under the cash-for-kids scheme.
Prosecutors argue that the former judge deprived young defendants of their right to counsel, ordered them into detention even when probation officers did not recommend it, pressured those officers to change their recommendations, and then institutionalized youths for offenses as minor as fighting with other students in school.
The Luzerne County District Attorney's Office has 30 days to identify the defendants it wants to prosecute again. It must then submit the list to Grim, who will determine case by case which should go forward.
Musto Carroll agreed that the convictions in Ciavarella's courtroom should be vacated, but she wanted to determine which ones to retry.
"We had argued all along that there were a certain class of cases so serious that we cannot just release those kids," she said. "A lot of them are still in treatment. Also, we have concerns with the victims in these cases. We didn't want [the accused] barred from being tried."
Musto Carroll's recommendations could be contested on double-jeopardy grounds by the Juvenile Law Center, the Philadelphia group whose petition was the basis for Grim's report. The center called the scheme "one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system."
Marsha Levick, legal director for the Juvenile Law Center, said she would await the district attorney's requests to Grim.
"Obviously, the biggest story here is, we're talking about 99 percent of these cases being reversed, and that's terrific. We have been seeking to redress the injustice for a long time."
Ciavarella and former Judge Michael T. Conahan are accused of taking about $2.6 million in bribes from a former owner of two for-profit detention centers and their developer.
In September, Conahan and Ciavarella pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering charges growing out of the scheme.
They agreed to plead guilty in February to lesser charges that called for 87-month prison sentences, far below federal guidelines.
But a federal judge rejected the deal and said the two had not fully accepted responsibility for the crimes. They switched their pleas, and prosecutors secured a 48-count indictment that includes racketeering, bribery, and extortion charges.
In this week's ruling, the Supreme Court said the fact that the judges withdrew their pleas had not influenced their deliberations over reversing the convictions. Noting that Ciavarella had admitted that he accepted the kickbacks in other court proceedings, the justices said: "The staggering financial payments made to Ciavarella and Conahan . . . are well documented."