Grants Right to Demand Lee’s Freedom

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, July 8, 1913

Negro’s Counsel Secures Chance to Argue for Habeas Corpus Writ Wednesday.

Reuben R. Arnold, of counsel for Leo M. Frank, communicated with Sheriff Mangum Tuesday afternoon directing him under no circumstances to permit the removal of Frank to appear Wednesday as a witness in the habeas corpus hearing to free Newt Lee.

“There is no law on earth to bring Frank to court under an order as a witness,” said Arnold. Attorney Rosser, chief of counsel, was absent from the city Tuesday.

Attorney C. J. Graham, of the firm of Graham & Campbell, went to the home of Judge W. D. Ellis Tuesday afternoon to obtain the court’s signature to an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of Newt Lee, negro night watchman in the National Pencil Factory prior to the killing of Mary Phagan.

Judge Ellis said he would sign the application and set Wednesday morning at 9:30 o’clock for a hearing on the writ. The hearing will be held in Judge Ellis’ court. Mr. Graham announced that he would ask subpenas for Jim Conley and Leo M. Frank.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey said Tuesday he was confident the State would be able to defeat any attempt to get Newt Lee out of the Tower, where he has been confined since April 27, first as a suspect in the Mary Phagan murder case and later as a material witness. He said he had advised Lee’s attorney not to take the action, as the negro was regarded as an important witness in making a complete chain of evidence against Leo M. Frank.

Defense’s Attitude Secret.

The plan of bringing Conley and Frank together may meet an insurmountable obstacle when it comes to getting the permission of Frank’s attorneys. The law allows an indicted man to testify or to refuse to testify. Frank has been willing to appear as a witness at any time, but he has placed himself under the instructions of his lawyers and the matter is entirely in their hands.

Attorney Rosser is out of town, but Reuben Arnold, associated with Mr. Rosser in the defense, said Tuesday that no thought had been taken of the possibility that Frank would be asked to appear in the habeas corpus hearing, and that, therefore, he could not say what the attitude of the defense would be.

The sentiment of the new Grand Jury, which is said to favor an investigation into the Phagan mystery with a view of indicting Conley, also opens a most interesting possibility in that the defense will be called upon to make known for the first time the evidence which it has against Conley.

Rosser Guards His Evidence.

Luther Z. Rosser, chief of counsel for the accused man, has stated publicly that he believes the negro, and not Frank, guilty of the terrible crime. He has narrated a number of suspicious circumstances that point to the guilt of Conley, but he has carefully guarded the contents of the scores of affidavits in his possession which are said to weave the strongest sort of a net about the negro.

If an effort is made by the Grand Jury to indict Conley, Attorney Rosser, as well as members of the detective department, probably will be asked to lay their evidence before the jurors for an impartial determination of whether it is sufficient to warrant the action.

This will be the first time the defense will have been led into any show of its real strength. Every attorney working in the interests of Frank has closed his lips tightly when questioned as to the really vital pieces of evidence in the hands of the defense.

It is regarded as likely, however, that they will welcome this opportunity to assist in the indictment of the negro, particularly as their evidence will be given behind closed doors and in the presence of men sworn to secrecy.

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The Atlanta Georgian, July 8th 1913, “Grants Right to Demand Lee’s Freedom,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)