Grand Jury Defers Action on Conley

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 22nd, 1913


Protest of Solicitor Dorsey Wins

Presents Evidence Showing Indictment of Negro Would Hinder Frank Prosecution.

Here are the important developments of Monday in the Phagan case:

The decision of the Grand Jury of Fulton County not to bring at this time an indictment against James Conley.

The information that there is a strong probability of another postponement of the trial of Leo M. Frank.

The Grand Jury’s refusal to reopen its investigation of the Phagan murder mystery was a decided victory for the Solicitor after that body had overridden his request that no session be called to take up the matter in any of its aspects.

A report that Judge L. S. Roan who will preside at the Frank trial had signified his desire that the case be put off until fall, gave rise to the expectation that another postponement will take place, and that the date probably will be set for some week in September.

Defense Said To Be Willing.

The defense also is said to be in favor of a continuance. Luther Z. Rosser, chief of counsel for Frank, said Monday that he did not contemplate asking for further delay, but thought that it would be a hardship on the jurors to hear the case at this time of the year. He made it plain that he would not oppose any move for a continuance.

The Grand Jury Monday decided to take no action at this time looking to the indictment of James Conley, accuser of Leo M. Frank in the murder of Mary Phagan.

The Grand Jury came to its decision after Solicitor General Dorsey had presented a mase [sic] of evidence to show why the indictment of the negro would hamper the prosecution of Frank. After more than an hour’s conference the Solicitor issued this statement.

“I am requested by the Grand Jury to say no action will be taken at this time on the James Conley matter, and that that body will not pay any[…]


Grand Jury Defers Action After Dorsey Shows It Will Hamper Frank Prosecution.

[…] attention whatever to anonymous communications.”

It is known that the Grand Jury has been flooded with letters on the Phagan case, many of them urging action on Conley, and many unsigned.

A recent Supreme Court decision was cited by Solicitor Dorsey to the Grand Jury when he demanded “hands off” on the Conley indictment. The decision says of the Solicitor:

“He is to determine whether or not to commence a particular prosecution, or to discontinue one already begun. The Solicitor General draws the bill of indictment and examines the witnesses, not with a view to the interest of any client, but alone to subserve public justice.

“The whole prosecution from the time the case is laid before him is under his direction, supervision and control—102 Georgia, page 271.”

Delay in Trial Rumored.

The impression gained around Monday that a postponement of the trial of Frank was probable. It was reported that the defense would make a move to effect this before the case comes up on June 28.

According to Solicitor Dorsey, Judge L. S. Roan, who will try the case, is not particularly anxious that it come up at this time.

Says Judge Favors Delay.

“I was talking with Judge Roan a short time ago,” said the Solicitor, “and from his conversation I gathered that he would rather the trial did not come up before fall, though he did not say so outright.”

Shortly before noon Jim Conley was taken from his cell at police headquarters and spirited off in an automobile by Detective Starnes and Campbell, the officers who have had complete charge of the negro for several weeks. Inquiry failed to reveal the destination or purpose of this action. The negro was out of his cell less than an hour and on his return the same strict secrecy was maintained.

Fighting Mincey.

According to Chief of Detectives Lanford, the mysterious trip of Conley from police headquarters with Detectives Starnes and Campbell ended at the corner of Electric avenue and Carter street, where W. H. Mincey, the insurance agent, declared in an affidavit the negro was sitting on the curb intoxicated the afternoon of the Phagan murder, and confessed that he had killed a girl that day.

Chief Lanford stated that an effort had been made by the detectives to have persons residing in that vicinity identify Conley as having seen him there at the time Mincey stated. However, no one had been able to do so. It was also declared that Conley had been taken around to a Butler street address where it is declared the negro was at the time Mincey swears the conversation on the curbing took place.

Solicitor Dorsey was the only person asked to appear before the jurors. Before they assembled he asserted that he was entirely confident that no indictment would be returned against the negro.