First Two Days of Frank Trial Only Skirmishes Before Battle

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

During the two days’ progress of the Frank trial public interest has centered around the case and all eyes seemed turned to it. To date, the interest has really been in watching the struggle between the skilled attorneys who are fighting for position and whose clashes over the preliminary witnesses are merely the skirmishes of the pickets before two mighty armies come together.

Thus far the interest, while to a certain extent centered on the maneuvering, has been mostly of the future tense. Every one is looking forward to what is to come. A fierce skirmish that almost engaged the two sides in real and earnest conflict came over the cross-examination of Newt Lee, and in it the state won. It was rather through the rare character of the negro testifying and his unbreakable spirit that the state won its first skirmish than through the efforts of its lawyers.

Much Depends Upon Conley.

It is the amount of weight to be placed upon James Conley’s affidavit, that if believed would convict Frank and if held false would turn the charge upon the maker, that the public waits.

What will Dr. J. M. Hurt, the coroner’s physician, testify? This is a question that has been frequently asked. Dr. Hurt delivered his testimony only before the executive session of the grand jury, and not a word of his evidence has been made public.

What will become of the Mincey affidavit is something that is puzzling spectators who are closely following the developments from day to day. Mincey’s affidavit, if believed, would hang Conley, as sure as Conley’s would hang Frank, should it be believed.

There are other witnesses who will be produced, it is said, whose names have never been called, and one of these is said to be a physician who will be put upon the stand by the state in an attack upon Frank. While the evidence he will give is not known, it is asserted that his testimony is intended to establish a link in the state’s chain of evidence.

What Defense May Do.

The probability that the defense will introduce no witnesses at all is something that has caused much speculation and many attorneys believe that they will not.

Then there is a strong chance that the defense has a witness whom they are saving and whose testimony will come like a sudden discharge of Maxims upon an advancing army and wither up the state’s attacking forces as they seek to establish their position.

Certain it is that a terrific fight will be made by the defense to batter down the negro Conley’s testimony and that the gruelling under which Newt Lee stood up Tuesday will be nothing to the assaults upon Conley.

Mincey may expect the same treatment from the state and it is known that every effort will be made to attack his testimony and to show him unworthy of belief.

Dr. Hurt’s Testimony.

That one of the great fights to be made by the defense will be upon Dr. Hurt’s testimony is one of the later developments in the case. The public generally does not know what the physician will testify about the condition of the Phagan child’s body and about a score of other details, but it is known that the defense has obtained at least an inkling of its import and is making every preparation to batter it down and to discredit it.

That the big fights will be made upon the statements of Dr. Hurt, W. H. Mincey, the negro Conley, the unknown physician and possible unknown witnesses, does not indicate that each point will not be contested to the very last and that each witness will be strained to the final ounce of his strength before he is ready to leave the stand.

From the fight made on the first two days and the frequent references to the minutes of the coroner’s hearing it appears that the case will last through another week and will be marked by the wonderful amount of detail in it.