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Justice Department reviewing controversial James sentence

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Manitoba’s Justice Department is reviewing a judge’s decision, and her two-year sentence given to Graham James on Tuesday, to assess whether there is any merit to an appeal.

Provincial Court Judge Catherine Carlson handed down her decision in packed Winnipeg courtroom and was almost immediately criticized across the country for being too lenient on the former junior hockey coach.

He had pleaded guilty to repeatedly and systematically sexually abusing former NHL star Theoren Fleury and Todd Holt, Fleury's younger cousin, when he coached them as teenagers during the 1980s and early 1990s.

The Crown wanted a six-year sentence while the defence asked for a conditional sentence with no jail time.

The two-year sentence means James will serve his sentence in a federal prison. He is eligible for day parole in September, when he will have served six months. He's eligible for full parole when he serves one-third of his sentence, meaning he could be released in November.

The Crown has 30 days to appeal Carlson’s sentence.

Justice sources have said in her ruling Carlson struggled with being impartial in the highly-charged case and following the letter of the law.

"The bottom line is you can’t destroy your reputation and ruin your independence and impartiality just based on emotions," one person said. "Justice is justice. It’s not vengeance. We have to follow the law. Always."

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