Court Scenes at Frank Trial; How It Looks Inside and Out

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal
July 28th, 1913

Three Distinct Crowds Are There, Some Laughing, Some Whispering Speculations on Case

There were three crowds at the Frank trial Monday morning; and each had an aspect and characteristic as different as east from west—the crowd in the court room, the crowd around the door and in the street, and the throng of witnesses swarming through the upstairs rooms.

As one approached the red brick court house down Hunter street, he could see the corner near Pryor black with people. A car would turn the curve, the motorman clanging his gong vigorously before the packed mass would open and let the car grind by.

They were mostly men and boys. At intervals a woman accompanied by an escort would struggle into the doorway and up the stairs. She was a witness probably a factory girl.

Clean across Pryor street the crowd outside extended. People stood in the doorway of a drug store, in the street, in little groups on the sidewalk. It was a silent throng on the whole, speculating in whispers as to what was happening within.


There were hardly fifty out of the hundreds without who could hope to get inside the building, yet there they were content to wait hour after hour, satisfied that they could look at the windows of the building which held a man or trial for his life.

They could see the people in the upstairs windows laughing and chatting, but beyond the guarded threshold where lawyers were fighting over jurymen after jurymen they could not hope to penetrate.

If one made his way past the crowd around the door, he was stared at. They were wondering what connection you should hold with the case. Batter your way to the door. There is a narrow lane leading up a flight of steps to the door of the court room. It is bordered on both sides by men, their hands on each other’s shoulders, waiting until the moment comes when the door is opened to the spectator. An officer keeps that lane clear.

Another officer is at the door, asking every man who enters what his business is. On the steps leading to the second floor are more people. Push through them and go upstairs. Here is the most interesting phase of the whole trial.


The rooms are crowded with men and girls, laughing and chatting as if they were a pleasure party. There is none of the morbid curiosity of the street crowd here.

These are the witnesses, young men smoking cigarettes and lounging in and out the doors, young girls, most of them from the factory, dressed in gay colored and white dresses, firing good natured sallies at one another.

“Are you subpoened?” they cry, “and are you, and you? Isn’t this a lark?”

Downstairs again to the first floor. If you can get past that suspicious individual who is guarding the door you be the envy of every man on the landing, for for you have gained entrance to the coveted court room.


But is it worth while? There is nothing sensational about this court room. In front of you is the railed inclosure which holds the judges stand and five tables and a score of chairs. Here are the lawyers. That man in the blue suit is Hugh M. Dorsey, the state’s attorney. Next him is Frank A. Hooper.

Hardly two arms’ lengths away is Luther Z. Rosser. Reuben R. Arnold is [1 word illegible] beside him. He, together with [1 word illegible] other lawyers conversing earn- [illegible] the same table, are wearing linen suits.

Judge Roan presides over all. He has on black-rimmed spectacles, over which every juryman is met by a piercing gaze.

At other tables sit reporters. They write furiously. One man has a pile of copy paper in front of him as high as a mountain. Surely that will last him till next Christmas, you think to yourself.

You look around. To the right and behind you are the jurymen. There are all sorts of conditions of men here of a surety. There are bald-headed men, red-headed men, black-headed men, men with glasses and men with specs, ranging with every age from twenty-five to fifty and beyond.

What is there, you ask yourself, that makes these men all alike? It is a curious sort of expectancy on the face of each one of them. Will he be one of the twelve good men and true to decide the fate of Leo Frank?


Some of them want to be chosen, are crazed with a morbid curiosity to see the proceedings at that trial. They are the ones who will be ruled out at the first panel. Others are impatient. Theirs is no interest in a murder case. They have business to attend to, a wife and children to care for.

The court room is not uncomfortable. It is cool and rather pleasant on the whole. Dim globes of electricity hang from the ceiling, giving a sort of soft light.

There is a humming noise over all. Those are the “ozonators,” the machines which are supposed to purify the air with fresh oxygen. Canned fresh air, you call it.

Look to your right. There is an open doorway. To the left of it is another door. It leads to a room, they tell you, where there paces back and forth the man for whom is set all this preparation and excitement, the whispering crowd in the street, the excited witnesses upstairs, the harassed officers keeping the crowd back, the eager jurymen, the ozonator, the electric lights and the copy paper—all there because a man is to be tried for the murder, nearly three months ago, of a little factory girl.