Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
July 28th, 1913
Frank was escorted from the Tower to the courthouse shortly after 6 o’clock in the morning, nearly three hours before the trial was schedule to begin. This was done to avoid the curious crowd which it was expected would be about the courthouse and thronging the corridors at 9 o’clock.
Frank was up and dressed and freshly shaven when Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner appeared before his cell at the early hour.
“How are you feeling this morning Mr. Frank?” the deputy inquired.
“Tip top, only, I’m mighty hungry,” replied Frank.
Exhibiting the same poised confidence that has characterized him through three months since he was locked in a cell in the county jail, the young factory superintendent chatted freely with Miner on the way to the courthouse.
Sure He Will Be Freed.
He was attired in a natty light gray mohair suit and wore a fancy gray tie. His face was fuller and he appeared slightly heavier than when he was arrested shortly after the murder of the Phagan girl. He seemed cheerful and in the best of health.
“I am very sure of acquittal,” he said, as he arrived at the courthouse. “I am glad that the trial is about to begin after this long wait. I have no fear of the outcome. I am not only innocent of the terrible crime, but I am innocent of any knowledge of it, save as the information has come to me since the officers came to my house that morning three months ago.”
At this moment E. C. Essenbach, a relative of Frank, appeared with a tempting breakfast which was spread in the prisoners’ room at the courthouse. Frank gave ocular proof that his appetite had not suffered from his long confinement as he proceeded to make way with the delicacies prepared for him.
Frank greeted his relative cheerfully and conversed with him for more than an hour. The topic seldom was on the crime or the trial which was about to begin. Long before the time set for the judge to take the bench other friends and relatives of the prisoner had appeared and some of them were permitted to talk to him.
Conley Ready For the Stand.
Jim Conley, Frank’s accuser, was made ready for the trial early in the morning, although it was not probable that he would be called during the day.
He was given a shave and a new suit of clothes, as he had worn for the last three months the same shabby garments that he had on at the time he was arrested while washing a shirt at the National Pencil Factory.
Conley said that he was ready to go on the witness stand at an instant’s notice. He declared that he would stick to the same story that he told in his last affidavit and which he has since repeated many times for the benefit of Solicitor Dorsey.
“If they had just let me face Mr. Frank, I could have made him tell the truth long before this,” he asserted.
Less than half a hundred persons were walking about the courthouse at 8 o’clock, an hour before the time set for the beginning of the trial. It was thought that not a large crowd would be clamoring for admission to the courtroom as it had become quite generally known that the small room would accommodate hardly more than the witnesses and the veniremen and that it would be necessary to exclude practically all spectators.
Much Preparation Made.
For no trial in the history of Georgia have such elaborate arrangements been made for the comfort of the comparatively small number of spectators who will gain admission, the attorneys who will handle the case, the jury and the newspaper men. Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner has received much praise for the splendid preparations made.
Electric fans have been installed at every window and on the railing separating the spectators’ seats from the bar, ozonators have been placed to keep the air purified. It probably will be the coolest and best ventilated place in Atlanta.
Not more than 250 spectators will be admitted. Approximately that number of chairs have been placed outside the inclosure. When they are filled the doors will be closed and no one else will be allowed in. No one will be permitted to occupy standing room.
The usual custom of permitting disinterested attorneys to occupy seats inside the bar will not be followed, and this particular part of the courtroom will be less crowded than during the average criminal trial.
How They Will Line Up.
Prosecuting Attorney Dorsey and at least five assistants will occupy a table directly in front of the bench and witness stand with the jury box close on the righthand side. Attorney Rosser with his assistants and the accused will be seated at a table to the left of the State’s and farther away from the jury. The table for newspaper men is back of the State’s table. The arrangements were agreed upon by the attorneys and the judge.
The table for the defense was selected by Attorney Rosser with a view to the number of persons who would wish to be near Frank during the trial. Seats have been arranged to the back of the table to accommodate at least 30 persons, friends and relatives of the accused, who have visited him constantly since he was confined at the Tower.
Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner, who will have charge of the crowd and keeping order in court, will also have charge of the prisoners. Long before any crowd congregated around the courthouse Frank and Lee were brought from the Tower and placed in the room reserved for them. When court opened Frank took his place at the table reserved for his attorneys.
The court rule to segregate the witnesses will, of course, be enforced, but it may not be until twelve men have qualified as jurors, which will hardly be before the middle of the week.
When the witnesses are segregated they will be kept in the large courtroom on the floor above the trial room. A bailiff will be placed in the hall and one on the door of the witness chamber, and as the names are called they will be brought from the floor above to the court.
It is probable some rule will be made to keep the witnesses for the State and the defense separated, in which event the third floor of the building would have to be used.
The jury room was selected with a great deal of care. It is almost inaccessible from the outside and large and airy. Its windows are about twenty feet above an alleyway that runs on either side. Deputies will be kept in the alley to keep anyone from getting this close to the room.
From the time a juror is acceptable to both sides until the conclusion of the case he will not be allowed to go to his home or communicate with anyone except a fellow juror.
The least of the deputies’ troubles will not be in handling the crowd that will gain admission to the court, but in handling the crowd that will daily congregate on the outside and wait through the day for news of the proceedings in the trial. Ten deputies and as many members of the county police will be on duty on the streets around the building.