Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 4th, 1913
Quiet Sunday for Twelve Jurors
By Vernon Stiles.
As completely cut off from knowledge of the happenings of the outside world as though they were marooned in an island of the South seas, and yet tantalized by the swirling life around them, twelve men have lived for the past week in the heart of Atlanta. Their days has been spent in a crowded courtroom, where they listened to the wrangle of lawyers and the more or less conflicting statements of the witnesses, and their nights have passed in three crowded rooms behind locked doors, where the tiny iron beds give the place grim and bare aspect of a hospital ward.
Before them during the day is always the sight of a man whom they will be asked to brand as the vilest criminal of Georgia’s history, and whom they will also be asked to liberate and free from the stigma that even the state’s charge against him now places on his name.
Tragedy Always Present.
In their mind’s eye is always the vision of that dark factory basement, of the little girl, victim of some fiend. The story of that morning in the basement when the child’s body was found has been described to the jurymen in the uncouth and yet striking and picturesque words of the night watchman who found the body and in the clearer language of the white men who followed Newt Lee’s call that morning.
Outside the courtroom they know that a mother sits, praying that the God above will lead His people here to find out the real murderer and follow the laws that were first written on stone tablets—take the life of the slayer for that of his victim.
By the side of the man whom they must judge sit two women—wife and mother—the persons closer than any others to him. With the wonderful love and unreasoning belief that the great Maker of the universe has put into womankind, they can see only one thing.
To them the awful deed pales into insignificance beside the charge against the husband and son, and they can never see that there is the slightest suspicion for the state’s charges which are now being investigated with a view to clearing the man if the evidence does not show him guilty, and of convincing him if the results of the trial point without a reasonable doubt to that end.
Despite the tragedy that stares into the faces of the twelve jurors which might seem enough to break their health, the men seem to live, outside of the courtroom and despite the confining quarters, the ordinary life of other men.
Acquire New Friendships.
Laughter and jokes pass away the time, and gradually the men have come to know each other and to acquire friendships some of which are due to prove of lasting qualities.
Although the jurors passed Sunday, a long and tiresome day—probably the longest Sunday of their lives—they referred little to the days in the courtroom and seemed to follow the orders of the judge when he told them to keep their minds clear until all the evidence had been submitted.
Life goes on in the close sleeping quarters of the jurymen as life will go on in any place, be it the crowded tenement district of New York, or the little cabin home on the coast of Georgia, with the nearest neighbor a mile away and the front yard sweeping out miles before the vision to the endless expanse of the broad Atlantic.
Without making the open agreement in regard to their evenings during the past week the men strove to amuse each other and the spirit of man to man sought out its comrades.
“These fellows are just as full of fellowship and fun with each other as though they’d been reared together,” is the way in which Deputy Foster Hunter described the men who were in his care Sunday.
How Men Spent Sunday.
The words of the deputy who had been with them the greater part of the day were simple and spoken with no particular thought of the wonderful trait of humanity, the saving trait of humanity that they described, but when one thinks of the real meaning behind that description, one sees into the real depths of the men who must decide the fate of Leo M. Frank.
The deputy then went on to describe the way in which the men had spent Sunday. They had stayed within the confines of the three-room suite at the Kimball house during the day, except for an hour after dinner, when he sat with them on the narrow veranda overlooking the street, while the jurymen watched with covetous eyes the passing flow of humanity, the coming and going of motor vehicles, the rattle of Atlanta’s cabs and the smoke that boiled and belched as some train pulled out of the depot, its engineer watching the track before him as the line of cars headed for some far-distant city where other lives moved and swept by in the hurry of life.
Sometimes the jurymen cracked jokes as a new automobile came by, its woodwork shining with the glisten that shows fresh paint and newness, and one man would call to another to “come and see what’s been invented since we’ve been locked up.”
For recreation the jurymen played cards and other games, as their individual desires prompted. Dominoes and setback, with maybe a poker game or two (though the deputy didn’t mention poker), proved the games that helped most to pass the hours away.
Magazines and books are plentiful in the large room which serves as a sort of living room and some of the men spent part of their time in reading.
Every Man Has Nickname.
That not all of the time has been spent in reading or paying games is shown by the spirit of comradeship that has been developed among the men on the jury.
‘Why those fellows know the entire history of every other man and they’ve quit calling each other by their ordinary names,’ said Deputy Hunter.
Every man in the crowds got a nickname and its against the rule to call him by anything else. There’s one fellow been married just four months and they call him ‘Bride’ and here the deputy broke off to chuckle at the thought of the newlywed and the many good natured jokes he had heard flung at him.
And there’s another man there they call Starnes. He’s M. Johenning the juryman with the mustache and rather thin face. They all decided he looked like Detective Starnes, who’s been working on the case.
And there’s Judge Roan and Luther without the Roar, called Luther. Without for short and an even dozen in all.
The jurymen took life easy Sunday. They arose rather early and took their baths and donned fresh linen sent from home and then had their breakfast. A couple of bell boys brought in a long table that is kept in the hall and waiters spread the meal out before the prisoner guests.
Take Long Walk in Evening.
That was the way in which each meal was served and after the supper the jurymen were taken for a long walk in the cool of the evening.
While the men are on jury duty there is very little communication that they can have with their families or with their business associates. They may write and receive letters but a deputy must read and O.K. each one before the juryman sends out his mail or reads that which comes to him.
Day by day the same routine goes on until there is hardly a wonder at the action of the juryman who followed the deputy to the door when he answered the reporter’s knock and said, ‘But for goodness sake tell me what is happening in the outside world.’
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