Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 2nd, 1913
O. B. Keeler.
The juror’s life is not unmixed with care.
Look him over next time you attend the Frank trial. Size up his little job. Weigh his responsibility. Consider his problems.
And then, if seeking employment, go out and sign a contract to make little ones out of big ones.
It’s a more satisfactory way of earning $2 a day.
The juror’s business is to collect evidence by the earful, sift the same, separate the true from the false, and make it into a verdict as between the Stat[e] of Georgia and Leo Frank.
On the face of it, the plan is beautifully simple.
But the beauty is only skin deep.
You are recokning [sic] without the lawyers.
Here Entereth the Lawyer.
The simple-minded layman—and that rating includes the juror—starts out with the idea that the business of a lawyer is to extract evidence from the witness in available form for proper consideration by the juror.
It speedily develops that the full intent of counsel is to prevent the witness from unburdening himself in any way whatsoever. The more expensive the counsel, the less information the opposition will be able to wheedle out of its star performers.
The method of blocking is objective—that is, it is by means of objections. It appears that our system of jurisprudence takes cognizance of the juror as a mere babe in arms, not fit to assimilate the strong meat of evidence straight.
How the Juror Is Spared.
So he is sedulously raised on the bottle.
Mr. Dorsey (for example) has a witness by whom he is aching to show that Leo Frank was nervous the morning he was apprised of the tragedy. Mr. Rosser and Mr. Arnold are equally positive that the witness is not competent to judge if Mr. Frank was nervous. Also they are quite sure that the bottle-fed juror is utterly incapable of deciding if the witness is competent to decide if Mr. Frank was nervous.
They do not intend that the juror shall endanger his delicate thinking apparatus by grappling with any such abstruse problem.
So they fix it up this way.
Witness: “He insisted on having some coffee.”
Mr. Rosser: “I object to the use of the word ‘insisted.’ It manifestly is a conclusion of the witness, and as such has no place in the evidence. I ask that the word be ruled out.”
Objections Fix the Fact.
And the court orders it ruled out, thereby fixing the circumstance firmly in the mind of the juror. And then Mr. Dorsey twists the query around and gets the witness to state that Frank asked for coffee twice at his house and once at the factory.
Just why that arrangement suits the defense bet[t]er than the simple proposition that Frank insisted on the coffee is not entirely plain—to the layman.
But it seems that the juror is to be shielded from any breath of anything not bearing strictly on the guilt or innocence of the accused.
Specific and accurate information being thus at a premium, the juror probably is amazed when Mr. Rosser, vibrating with grief and indignation, protects against Detective Scott reading from some notes he made while working directly on the case.
The court also is shocked, but permits Mr. Scott to “refresh his memorl [sic]” by means of the notes and then retail the product of such refreshment by word of mouth.
This is agreeable to Mr. Rosser and the court, but when Mr. Dorsey offers further to refresh Mr. Scott’s somewhat wilted recollection, Mr. Rosser intimates at the top of a robust voice that such a thing shall be accomplished only over his (Mr. Rosser’s) inanimate form.
And that promptly affords the bottle-fed juror some more evidence to ponder.
Mr. Dorsey insists it is his right to “lead” the witness.
The witness demands to know if he is suspected of holding back.
Mr. Dorsey declares he has been trapped by the witness, and Mr. Rosser appends the somewhat doubtful comment that Frank Hooper is a wise man.
Here Are More Problems.
Now, add this to the problems of the troubled juror:
Is Mr. Scott balking?
If so, has Mr. Dorsey the right to hold an ear of corn in front of him?
Has Mr. Dorsey been trapped?
And, in view of the foregoing, is or it not Mr. Hooper a wise a man?
Other problems for the exercise of the Frank juror on the side, as it were, would include the following:
Should Mr. Dorsey be permitted to examine a witness without interruption by Mr. Rosser?
Should Mr. Rosser be permitted to object?
If so, should Mr. Dorsey scowl while Mr. Rosser is objecting?
Does Mr. Rosser consider whisky a good remedy for indigestion?
Would He Hide Evidence?
Would anybody think that Mr. Rosser would have anything to do with suppressing evidence, except in the regular and approved objective method prescribed by law?
Is Mr. Scott a trained sleuth?
And one more thing that tends to lend an acrobatic cast to the mental processes of the Frank juror.
Once in a while—not very often, it’s true—but once in a while something gets by Mr. Rosser and Mr. Arnold. The witness may be quick on the trigger. Or Mr. Dorsey may manage to frog up a subtle query with a joker in it.
And after the storm of objection has thundered itself out and Mr. Rosser is mopping the sings of honest toil from his brow, and Mr. Dorsey is wearing an expression similar to that of a cat that knows all about what happened to the canary—why, then the court orders the stenographer to strike out the answer.
And the obliging juror is instructed to forget it.
Would You Forget it, Too?
Just suppose that you, being an honest and hard-working juror, trying in an honest and hard-working way to extract a morsel of real information from a jungle of cross-questions and crabbed answers and objections and oratory and recrimination—suppose that the honest and hard-working witness should beat ’em to it for once, and disgorge something really interesting.
And then suppose the judge should tell you to wipe it right off your mental slate, and not remember it, or consider it, or thinks about it any more forever.
You would do it, would you not?
Neither would we.
The juror’s life is not unmixed with care.