Philadelphia, PA – The City of Philadelphia and Chester Hollman today announced the settlement of Mr. Hollman’s federal wrongful conviction lawsuit against the City. Mr. Hollman will receive $9.8 million from the City of Philadelphia, which reflects the fact that Mr. Hollman spent 28 years in jail and prison for a 1991 murder that he was exonerated for in 2019. Although the settlement does not include an admission of liability by the City or its employees, all involved parties are pleased to have reached this agreement and believe this result best serves the interests of justice.
Statement of Chester Hollman:
Having my freedom rightfully restored after 28 years is bittersweet, as many innocent people like myself spend decades in prison hoping and fighting simply to reveal the truth, and the few who do gain their freedom are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. There are no words to express what was taken from me, and no way to measure what I’ve lost, but this settlement closes out a difficult chapter in my life as my family and I now embark on a new one.
Statement of Mayor James Kenney:
This settlement reflects not only the fact that Mr. Hollman spent 28 years incarcerated before his exoneration, but Mr. Hollman’s evident character and composure in the face of an unimaginably trying situation. My heart goes out to Mr. Hollman and his entire family. While there is no price for a person’s liberty, I am encouraged to know that we have reached what I believe is a fair agreement that will allow Mr. Hollman and his family to begin building a future together. As has been evident in my time as Mayor for the City of Philadelphia, I am deeply committed to ensuring that justice is served. This commitment is not just for Mr. Hollman, but for all individuals who encounter our criminal justice system.
Statement of Acting City Solicitor Diana P. Cortes:
The City recognizes the great length of time Mr. Hollman spent incarcerated before his conviction was reversed, and his experience serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of ensuring justice for all individuals. It is significant that this matter was amicably resolved without litigation. I wish Mr. Hollman the best as he moves forward with the next chapter of his life.
Statement of Amelia Green, of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP:
With this settlement, the City finally acknowledges the truth that Chester Hollman is irrefutably innocent and was terribly wronged. The two witnesses who testified against Mr. Hollman at his criminal trial have affirmed their testimony was false and coerced and a Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office reinvestigation revealed that police hid powerful evidence that other people with no connection to Mr. Hollman had committed the crime. Mr. Hollman’s perseverance is a lesson in strength and hope that inspires us all. Although no amount can right what Mr. Hollman endured, in a year that has laid bare the darkness of our criminal legal system past and present, we are encouraged that this $9.8 million settlement is a step by the City in the direction of justice and light.