Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 10th, 1913
ROSSER CALLS HIM BEAU BRUMMEL OF BAR
By Britt Craig.
He has a kind and genial face that makes you feel he is the friend of everybody in the world, but in the midst of a big trial he might be compared with a Gatling gun, except for the fact that there doubtless are witnesses who would prefer facing the Gatling.
There is a liberal sprinkling of gray in his hair, and Luther Rosser has often truthfully, although sarcastically, referred to him as the Beau Brummel of the bar.
You would never suspect that he was a lawyer. Your first impression would be that he was an author, an actor or lecturer.
That he would work as untiringly and persistently to hang a man as Culumbus worked to find America, would never enter your mind, and you would dispute the word of your most verarious friend on the subject.
Dorsey Secures Hooper.
When Solicitor Hugh Dorsey faced the task of prosecuting Leo M. Frank he set about to find a colleague worthy of the undertaking. He selected Frank Hooper, a well-known corporation attorney.
The Atlanta public, which, as a rule, keeps in touch with only the spectacular cases, wondering at the choice, inquired who is Hooper?
The solicitor stood sponsor for his man, and consulted the parents of Mary Phagan on his choice. Mr. and Mrs. Coleman put the brand of approval upon him the moment they saw him, and Frank Hooper was entered as associate counsel.
The public speculated considerably, as the public is prone to do, and waited eagerly for a display of the talents of this colleague. A portion of the public—that portion which knows what to do in such cases—looked up “Men of Mark in Georgia,” and finding much space devoted to the name of Hooper, concluded that Dorsey had chosen logically.
Audiences Watch Hooper.
Then came the trial. A man of small stature, no larger than the solicitor himself, sat with Mr. Dorsey and conferred with him as only an associate would be privileged to do. The audience whispered that this must be Hooper.
“Well, he looks all right, has a clever face, and that smile just won’t come off.”
The first impression, therefore, was satisfactory, and the curious public began to take even a greater interest in this Hooper than it had before.
His fame spread fully as quickly. His speeches were incisive and clear-pointed. There was something irresistible about his arguments, and he seemed to know a wonderful lot about laws.
A Barricade of Law Books.
Several days ago, when the argument was in progress over the attempt by the defense to expunge certain parts of Jim Conley’s testimony, Frank Hooper came into the courtroom with an armful of thick books. Two deputies followed him, carrying proportionate loads.
When all others had finished voicing their respective protests, he arose from behind his barricade of legal volumes and said to the court in that polite, deliberate manner that wins the witness’ heart on cross examination before Hooper applies the vitriol.
Reads Law Instead.
“Your honor has requested that we not occupy much time in talking over this matter. I do not suppose he meant anything about reading law on the subject. If the court will be patient, I will cite numerous and varied instances of court history on which the state’s argument is based.”
He read law from one authority, and said that if the court doubted that particular expert, he would read it from another. He read old law and new, and when he had finished the audience had obtained a full education on that one point.
When he had finished he closed his remarks with only a sentence or two.
“Now, that’s the law. It’s as plain as the nose on your honor’s face. That’s one thing beyond dispute—the law.”
He resumed his seat, and a second later Judge Roan leaned over his bench and said:
“I overrule the objection of the defense.”
There was an applause that received a severe rebuke from the judge. It was improper, but that applause put an everlasting brand of approval upon the team of Dorsey and Hooper.
Hooper Toys With Witness.
And Friday, when the pattern maker who had built the pencil factory model that was submitted for the defense, was turned over to Hooper for cross examination, Hooper began toying with him, politely, mildly.
The pattern maker, who, as shown by his model, is undisputedly a mechanical genius, answered this question and that with ease, and then he became confused. When Hooper had applied the balm of kindness, he now began smearing salt and ginger. The witness admitted numerous discrepancies and Hooper, who seemed to be as thoroughly acquainted with the pencil factory premises as the man who built it, carried his point completely.
First, he had become established from a point of personal appearance, which, if it was overlooked in the first paragraphs, is as much like a statesman as an actor, author or lecturer. Then, as a student of law, a speech-maker, a debator, and now the audience dared to applaud in a courtroom as praise of his cross-fire ability.
Thus came Frank Hooper from what might be called the obscurity of corporation counsel into the glaring, dazzling limelight of associate prosecuting attorney in a state’s biggest murder trial.
In south Georgia, where big murder cases are frequent, no trial was completed without the presence of Frank Hooper. Seventeen of his forty-six years were spent in the role of prosecuting attorney. His home, for the greater part of this time, was in Americus, where he solicitor general of the southwestern circuit from 1896 to 1907.
Won Many Big Trials.
His laurels were won in many big trials, and one of them was the famous Childers case. There were others too numerous to mention. Read “Men of Mark in Georgia” if you haven’t already learned enough for your satisfaction. He was born on the banks of the Coosa, up near Rome. At his father’s death during his early boyhood he was adopted by Judge John T. Clark, of Cuthbert, in which city he spent many years.
There probably has never been a justice in Georgia more noted than Judge Clark, a man loved and honored by an entire southland. Young Frank, at the judge’s persuasion, decided upon a career in law. He went to Mercer, graduating in 1885. He’s been a lawyer since.
A. B. Caldwell, in “Men of Mark,” pays Hooper a flowery and fitting tribute on pages 123, 124 and 125. He is called Frank Arthur, and that explains the A in his name.
“Frank Arthur Hooper, now of Atlanta, but prior to 1909, for twenty years a practicing lawyer in Americus, comes of the best stock in Georgia. He was born in Floyd county, a son of B. F. and Christine T. (Fort) Hooper.
Prominent in Carolina.
“The Hooper family was very prominent in North Carolina, as shown by the colonial and state records, and one of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence. On the paternal side of his family the name is very ancient. The Hoopers, according to genealogists, took the names from a professional who put hoops on a barrel.
“Mr. Hooper’s mother was descended from that Arthur Fort so prominent during the revolutionary period, and who served in two constitutional conventions at that time. Frank A. Hooper was educated in the Southwest Georgia Agricultural college and in Mercer. He graduated from the latter with the degrees of bachelor of arts and master of arts.
“Outside of his studies, he is a reading man, partial to works of history and standard authors of fiction. He is an active member of the Ponce de Leon Baptist church, is past grand chancellor for the Georgia Knights of Pythias, is affiliated with the various Masonic bodies, is a member of the Phi Delta Theta college fraternity and a member of the University club.
“On January 18, 1888, he was married to Miss Lena Callaway. They have four children, Laurie Clark, Mary Callaway, Christina Fort and Frank Arthur, Jr.”
In conclusion, Author Caldwell writes:
“Mr. Hooper is a ardent democrat.”
Plenty More of Praise.
There is plenty more of it in Caldwell’s tribute to the man who is now assisting in the fight to convict Leo Frank. There is a lot more praise and plenty more facts of varied achievements.
He is general counsel for the Empire Life Insurance company as well as other corporations. The criminal field he had abandoned until the Frank trial came about. The old call of the courtroom battle ground, the spirit of the fight, beckoned and he answers.
But, even with all this knowledge, there is still more to be learned of Frank Arthur Hooper. It will come with the progress of the trial, for, in its present and future stages, the prosecution is on its mettle. It is keyed to a highest pitch, combating every move of the brilliant defense, fighting for this and fighting for that—battling every inch of the ground.
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