Dorsey Resists Move to Indict Jim Conley

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, July 19, 1913


Public Opinion Forces Consideration of Move to Indict Conley for Phagan Slaying.

Solicitor Dorsey is fighting vigorously the movement in the Grand Jury to indict Jim Conley Monday for the murder of Mary Phagan, despite the bombardment of letters from many citizens and by the sentiment of some of its own members.

It is for the consideration of these letters and petitions, asking the reopening of the Phagan matter, that the meeting has been called. That it will result in the indictment of the negro is thought certain.

It was in the face of Solicitor Dorsey’s bitterest opposition that the meeting was called at all. Foreman Beattie issued his den [sic] after a previous Grand Jury had been defeated in its efforts to reopen the case with a view of indicting Jim Conley and after Dorsey explicitly had expressed his strongest disapproval of such a move.

Crucial Battle Coming.

With the first skirmish won by those in favor of the indictment of Conley, the hottest battle is yet to be waged behind the closed doors of the jury room. The question first will be on whether the grand jurors consider it proper at this time to reopen the investigation whose first chapter resulted in the indictment of Leo M. Frank on the charge of slaying Mary Phagan. Solicitor Dorsey will lay before the body for the first time all of his reasons for desiring a postponement of all further investigation until after the trial of Frank.

Should the solicitor be driven back from this position by the Grand Jury again, disregarding his wishes and taking up the investigation, he will be forced to take refuge in the last ditch and make his fight against the indictment of Conley.

With all the weight of evidence which has piled up against the negro, it is regarded as beyond the realm of possibilities that he could persuade the jurors to return a “no bill” against Conley on the charge of murder. Dorsey’s one remaining hope at this time would be, it is said, to induce the Grand Jury to waive definite action until after the trial of Frank, when it will be in a position to say whether an indictment shall be drawn against Conley as an accessory after the fact, to which he has confessed, or as the actual murderer.

Dorsey Refuses to Comply.

The Solicitor’s attitude in the matter plainly was shown by his statement when Foreman Beattie went to him Friday seeking to have him call the meeting. Dorsey flatly refused and said:

“The meeting’s only purpose will be to exploit the evidence and embarrass the State, and I hope the Grand Jury when it meets will decide to leave the matter alone.

“The indictment of Conley at this time will be a useless procedure that will not stop the trial of Frank. It will only have a mild but undesirable effect on the State’s case.

“Conley is in jail and is going to stay there for some time. He is where the authorities can put their hands on him, and he can be indicted much more properly after the Frank case has been disposed of than before, and by the delay there is no danger of a miscarriage of justice.”

Position Called Unfair.

The Solicitor’s position is attacked as palpably unfair by those who have been working to bring about the in-[…]

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[…]dictment of the negro. Dorsey would have the testimony of the negro accredited as that of any free and trustworthy citizen, while those opposing him declare it should be taken in the light of that of a possible murderer who is endeavoring to shift the blame on another’s shoulders, they say.

They add that the evidence against Conley is far more direct and damning than any ever brought against Frank. They charge, on this account, that Conley has been protected and “coddled” when he should have been placed on the same basis as the other suspect in the case and should before the jury in that aspect.

General denials were entered Saturday to the story published Friday that the Pinkertons had changed their attitude in the murder mystery and were convinced of the innocence of Frank. Chief of Detectives Lanford declared that Harry Scott had reaffirmed his belief in the guilt of Frank and the innocence of Conley except as accessory after the fact.

Scott was non-committal, but indicated that there had been no change in his theories of the crime. During the progress of the investigations he repeatedly asserted his belief that Conley was telling the truth regarding his part in the disposal of Mary Phagan’s body.

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The Atlanta Georgian, July 19th 1913, “Dorsey Resists Move to Indict Jim Conley,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)