Dorsey Unafraid as He Faces Champions of the Atlanta Bar

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 1st, 1913

Up Against a Hard Proposition Youthful Solicitor Is Fighting Valiantly to Win Case.


Georgia’s law’s most supreme penalty faces Leo Frank.

A reputation that they can not be beaten must be sustained by Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold.

Atlanta’s detective department’s future is swaying on the issue of the Frank trial.

But there is a man with probably as much at stake as any of the hundreds who crowd Judge Roan’s courtroom, with the exception of Frank, and he is accepting the ordeal, though he realizes it, as calmly as a person who has nothing more serious to decide than whether he will order his steak rare or well done at breakfast time.

Hugh Dorsey is hereby introduced. He is known pretty well in Atlanta without introduction but as chairmen on political meetings insists on telling the audience that the President of the United States is about to speak or that the Secretary of State is endeavoring to earn an additional amount to his yearly $12,000. Mr. Dorsey can be placed before the public without fear of violating precedent.

Consider Hugh Dorsey.

Consider Dorsey’s job. His position as public prosecutor places on him the duty of sending someone to the gallows, and this time it is Leo M. Frank, against whom he must direct his efforts.

The proposition of convicting a man is as common in the life of a Solicitor as paying his car fare home. But here’s a different proposition. Dorsey is confronted with the task of getting a conviction over the efforts of Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold to obtain an acquittal.

And anyone who knows Atlanta, who knows Fulton County, who knows Rosser, who knows Arnold, realizes that this is a task from which Hercules might sidestep, a labor that is more tremendous than the building of the Panama Canal or the successful storming of the fortress of Gibraltar.

And still Dorsey has gone into the fight unafraid; not only that, he is aggressive.

Atlanta’s record for big crime trials has not been altogether healthy in the past twelve months. In that time Dorsey has prosecuted Mrs. Daisy Grace on a charge of attempting to slay her husband. Atlanta was intensely interested in this issue. Mrs. Grace was acquitted. Dorsey lost.

He prosecuted Callie Scott Applebaum on a charge of ending the life of her husband. Again the public was deeply interested. Again Dorsey lost.

And then came the Phagan killing.

Atlanta, Georgia and the South demanded that her slayer be brought before the bar of justice and be given law’s severest penalty.

Frank was fixed upon by the police as the man.

The grand jury indicted him, and Dorsey staked his all on his conviction.

Luther Rosser had been retained by Frank’s chief counsel.

Dorsey smiled.

Again there was a flash. Reuben Arnold had been added to the list of legal array to clear the name of the superintendent of the National Pencil Factory of the charge that the had taken the life of a little girl.

Reputation is a big thing. No prize fighter faces a champion without doubts as to his ability to cope with him. The greatest financial genius probably trembled in his boots when he first met the foremost captain of industry. A violin virtuosos bows before Kubelik. There is no pianist who would approach Paderewski without a sensation of awe.

And here in Atlanta, Arnold and Rosser are champions. They are Kubeliks, they are Paderewskis.

Hugh Dorsey hasn’t quailed.

Throughout the trial he has been desperately earnest. He realizes the work that is before him. If he has any enemies, they will admit that he has handled his case well.

The Solicitor General is a great deal younger than his opponents. His hair is tinged with gray, and there will probably be more of those strands there before he is through with his clashes with the dynamic Rosser and the erudite Arnold.

He is taking the case with intense seriousness. So far, Rosser’s efforts to rattle him by calling him “Huge,” “my young friend,” “son” and “bud” have been unavailing.

The practical collapse of his detective testimony was enough to stun any man, but Dorsey stuck it out gamely. There is plenty of fight still in his eyes. It will be there if the case goes against him.

His appearance would indicate that he is holding something back, something with which he expects to surprise his eminent opponents.

Then, There is Hooper.

There is one thing that spectator knows is ebing [sic] held back. He is a quiet little man, with a scholarly face, a man who has already won the spurs in Georgia politics, but how has not figured extensively in the bigger criminal cases tried before Atlanta courts.

The man is Frank Hooper. He has been on his feet but once. He made an impression then. And when the case comes to its crucial stages, it will be well to watch these two young lawyers arrayed against the admitted masters of their craft.

She lithe and unknown Corbett sent the invincible John L. Sullivan to oblivion. Brian du Bois Gilbert was unhorsed by Wilfred of Ivanhoe. Theodore Roosevelt ran second in a Presidential race.

Who knows?