Grand Jury Is Called Monday to Indict Jim Conley

by Curator on September 7, 2018

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

The Atlanta Journal

Friday, July 18, 1913

*Editor’s Note: Small sections of text are missing due to scanning near a crease.

GRAND JURY CALLED TO TAKE UP MATTER OVER DORSEY’S HEAD

Foreman W.D. Beattie Calls Body to Meet Monday and Take Up Evidence Against Negro in Phagan Girl’s Case derer [sic]

SOLICITOR REFUSED TO ISSUE THE CALL

Notwithstanding the Solicitor’s Protest, Foreman Calls a Meeting Anyhow—Dorsey Issues a Statement

Over the vigorous protest of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, the foreman of the grand jury has called a meeting for Monday for the specific purpose of considering an indictment against James Conley, the negro sweeper, who claims that he assisted Superintendent Leo M. Frank in disposing of the body of Mary Phagan, after she had been murdered in the National pencil factory on April 26.

The solictior [sic] general was approached Friday morning by W. D. Beattie, real estate dealer, who is the foreman of the present jury. Mr. Beattie asked Mr. Dorsey to call a meeting of the jury, and the solicitor flatly refused. Then Mr. Beattie informed the county’s highest prosecuting official that he, as foreman of the grand jury, would call the body together to consider the Conley [m]atter.

After the conference Solicitor Dorsey authorized one of the few statements which he has made since he took up the Phagan case. He said that he told Mr. Beattie that the move to indict Conley was […] should not be […]

“Its only purpose,” the solicitor said, “will be to exploit the evidence and embarrass the state, and I hope the grand jury when it meets will decide to leave the matter alone.

“The indictment of Conley at this time will be a useless procedure that will not stop the trial of Frank. It will only have a mild, but undesirable effect on the state’s case.

“Conley is in jail and is going to stay there for some time. He is where the authorities can put their hands on him, and he can be indicted much more properly after the Frank case has been disposed of than before, and by the delay there is no danger of a miscarriage of justice.”

It has long been known that the defense of Frank will be in a measure the prosecution of Conley, and naturally it is of importance to the defense to have the man it will accuse under a grand jury indictment.

AS THE MURDERER.

If the grand jury acts on the Conley case on Monday it is said to be practically certain that the negro will be indicted as a principal and not as an accessory after the fact.

When The Journal published its exclusive story of last Wednesday, saying that action on the Conley matter would be taken before the Frank case went to trial, Foreman Beattie stated at that time he had no intention of calling the jury together to consider the Conley matter, and did not expect the jury to meet unless it was called by the solicitor general. He said, however, that if a majority of the jury asked him to call a meeting that he would take pleasure in so doing.

Friday Mr. Beattie positively refused to make any statement, but it is naturally supposed that a majority of the jury must have asked that a meeting be called.

LITTLE DOUBT OF VERDICT

Therefore, it is apparent that the grand jurors from their general knowledge of the case, consider that action on the matter is necessary and there is little doubt that a bill charging Conley with the crime will be drawn.

If Conley is indicted the solicitor general will never allow him to go to trial for the crime before the case against Frank has been heard before a jury and its verdict rendered.

The attorneys for Frank, however, will probably be able to get into the record the fact that Conley is facing an indictment for the offense, which he lays in his statements at Frank’s door.

In addition, it will give the witness Conley the appearance of testifying before a jury against Frank in order that he may save his own neck.

This is the first time the grand jury has taken up the consideration of a criminal case in this county over the protest of the solicitor general.

The law, however, gives the jury ample authority to take any action it wishes, regardless of the attitude of the solicitor general.

The grand jury can go further and instruct the solicitor to bring in all evidence, which he had in the case, and this course will probably be pursued.

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The Atlanta Journal, July 18th 1913, “Grand Jury Is Called Monday to Indict Jim Conley,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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