Judge Roan Rules Out Most Damaging Testimony Given By Conley Against Leo Frank

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

Atlanta Journal
August 6th, 1913

Solicitor Dorsey in Vigorous Speech Protests Against Striking Evidence, Declaring He Has Witnesses to Corroborate the Negro and That Striking of Testimony Will Prevent His Getting Their Statements Before the Jury

Sustaining a motion made by the defense in the trial of Leo M. Frank, Judge L. S. Roan Tuesday afternoon announced that he would rule out all of Conley’s testimony charging the accused superintendent with perversion, and the negro’s testimony that he acted as a “lookout” for Frank on days previous to the murder. The judge ruled that Conley’s testimony that he watched for the accused on the day of the tragedy would remain in evidence.

Attorney Arnold entered the court about two minutes late. Mr. Rosser had not arrived. Mr. Arnold asked that the jury be sent out and stated that he had several motions to make. The jury went out. The first, he said, was a motion to exclude certain testimony from the record on the ground that it was wholly irrelevant, incompetent and inadmissible. Mr. Arnold held a long typewritten document in his hands.

“We move, first,” he said, “to exclude from the record all the testimony of Conley relative to watching for the defendant, and we withdraw our cross-examination on that subject.”

Second, Mr. Arnold moved that a portion of the negro’s testimony attacking Frank’s character, which was brought out through questions propounded by the solicitor, be ruled out.

Mr. Arnold concluded the argument by saying, “Before anything else is done, we move to exclude this from the record.”

Judge Roan spoke up, “As I understand it, Mr. Arnold, what you want to withdraw is testimony about watching on other occasions.”

Before this question was answered, Attorney Arnold turned to Mr. Hooper and showed him that part of Conley’s evidence which the defense wished to exclude.

Attorney Hooper took the floor saying, “To allow this motion would be to trifle with the court. When they did not object at the time this evidence was introduced I believe they lost any ground that they had for an objection. If their objection had been entered at the time of the introduction of this testimony, I should say that the objection was well taken, but I do not think that they have a right after letting it all go into the records without protest, now to move for its total exclusion.”

Mr. Dorsey sent a deputy sheriff out for some law books.


During the wait, Frank drooped his head, and his mother put his arm around his neck and patted him on the shoulder and whispered in his ear. He smiled faintly and looked around.


Solicitor Dorsey addressed the court.

“I submit, your honor,” said he, “as an original proposition this evidence is admissible. They have waited too late to enter their objection.”

Mr. Rosser interrrupted.

“We move to rule it out because it is immaterial,” said he, addressing both the court and the solicitor.

“If you’ve got any authority to back up your objection,” retorted the solicitor, “trot it out.”

“I never trot out anything in court,” replied Mr. Rosser. “I’ve got too much respect for the court.”

“Well, gallop it out, lope it out,” said the solicitor. “It doesn’t make any difference, just so you produce it.”

“You wouldn’t understand it if we did,” snapped Mr. Rosser.

Solicitor Dorsey proceeded, ignoring the last remark.


“Your honor, just as a matter of fairness, I submit that it is not right to let this gentleman give this witness a most severe gruelling for two days, go into his testimony by cross-examination, and then come along and ask that certain portions of it be ruled out. They would stop us now from bringing out witnesses to sustain Conley. We purpose to corroborate the testimony of this witness as to Frank’s conduct. To grant their motion would be to stop us from introducing our corroborative evidence.”

The solicitor announced that he has other witnesses waiting to corroborate Conley.


“Is it fair, your honor, after one, two, three, four, able counsel have sat here and let this evidence get into the record; after they have cross-examined the witness for two days and then wake up to the conclusion that it should be expunged from the record—is that a fair proposition?”

“The state’s case will have been done great damage,” continued the solicitor, “If now, after the defense has derived all the benefit it possibly can expect from cross-examination, these facts are cut out and we are not given an opportunity to put witnesses on the stand to show that this man Jim Conley has spoken the truth.

“Now the able counsel sees the terrific force of these transactions, and they would stop us from corroborating them.

“I appeal to you, in the name of fairness and justice, to let counsel now see that objections, if they are to be entertained, must be timely.

“Why, your honor, they have gone into even the workings of the National Pencil factory, and showed this man Conley’s relations with a half a dozen different men, and they have done so very properly, for it shows his connection with this defendant and is a part of the history of the crime.


“I will tell your honor right now that we have witnesses to sustain this man.

“Any piece of evidence, any transaction, anything of his past conduct, to show his intent and purpose when he got this girl up there, is admissible. And it is largely by this that we are showing what this man did to poor little Mary Phagan. Anything to show his motive must be admissible. As to the distinct relevancy of this testimony, I cite as an instance the testimony of Dr. Hurt.

“This testimony which they would rule out goes right to the point and it will be corroborated. It goes largely to show who killed the girl.

“I beg of you to think twice before you rule out these powerful circumstances.”

Solicitor Dorsey challenged the defense to produce any decision written within the past five years contrary to this principle.

“The courts are slow,” said Mr. Dorsey. “Too slow to progress. But this one rule the courts have now taken up.

“The importance of this testimony will be more manifest before we get further in this case.”


During Solicitor Dorsey’s arraignment of Frank, Mrs. Frank, wife of the accused, arose from her seat and left the room. She went into an anteroom and remained several minutes. When she returned to the court, there were fresh tears in her eyes. She resumed her seat at her husband’s side.


“There’s no use making stump speeches here,” said Mr. Arnold. “There’s no use waxing so eloquent. I could do it, I guess, but I don’t want to make my jury argument while it’s so hot unless I have to.”

Mr. Arnold termed the objectionable evidence, “miserable, rotten, stuff,” and went on to say that the defendant suffered outrageously by its admission into the records.

“The state admits that it is illegal evidence,” said he. “The only ground that they want it retained on is that we didn’t make timely objection. In a criminal case, you never can try a man for but one crime. That’s the old Anglo-Saxon way. In France, and in Italy and in Germany, when a prisoner comes into court, he comes prepared to answer for his whole life. But it’s not that way here. We only try a man for one crime. What is this proposition?


“I sympathize with the little girl’s parents as much as anybody, but I say it is just as much murder to attempt to convict this defendant by the introduction of illegal and irrelevant evidence. This miserable wretch on the stand,” pointing to Conley, “has told a glib parrot-like tale. He was schooled in it for two months, and I feel sorry for anybody that will believe him. He has introduced another capital crime into this case—not that I believe a white man would believe a word he said, but his testimony has brought it in. A case of murder is a distinctly marked case, and as I understand it the state does not contend even that this is a premeditated case.

“The state has put this man on the stand, and they want to bolster up his outrageous tale with a lot of irrelevant matter.”

Attorney Arnold attacked the supreme court decision cited by Solicitor Dorsey, contending that the decision was written in a case involving illegal sale of cocaine, and not in a murder case. Murder, said he, is an entirely different matter, and is more serious than the selling of cocaine.


“If this evidence is admitted we would have to stop investigating the murder and take up the investigation of two other cases and the cases he mentioned are not parallel with this.

“With this evidence before the jury, there is a likelihood of that body convicting this defendant on general principles. I am coming under a general rule when I say this ought to be ruled out.”

“Your honor, how much confusion would be in the jury’s mind! How much the issue would be clouded!” continued Mr. Arnold. “How unfair to this defendant in a day or two without notice and require him to answer such charges as these. It would necessitate our going back over all of these days this villain has mentioned. We would have to call in every employe of the factory, and goodness knows how many other witnesses. If they can put such evidence as this in, we certainly can rebut it. This is illegal testimony, and they have done us an incalculable injury to let this suspicion get into the minds of the jury.”

Judge Roan interrupted Mr. Arnold.


“Everything relating to the watching on the particular day, April 26, is relevant.”

“Everything relating to that particular transaction is a part of this case,” said Mr. Arnold. “We are not even objecting to what this witness says happened at the factory or what was told him on the Friday before.”


Judge Roan announced his ruling as follows:

“There is no doubt in my mind that his evidence was inadmissible as an original proposition, and I will rule out all except as to the watching on that particular day.”

Attorney Hooper requested the judge to postpone his decision until Wednesday, in order to give the state time to look up and submit decisions bearing on the point in issue. The court refused to do this.

Judge Roan added, however, that he holds himself in readiness to reverse himself if he finds that he has ruled wrong.

“I have no pride about that matter,” said the judge. “I wouldn’t hesitate to reverse myself if I found I was wrong.”

The jury was then brought back into court, and Attorney Rosser resumed his cross-examination of Conley.


“You took that girl, rolled her on a sheet, wrapped her up and tied her like a bundle of clothes? asked Attorney Rosser.

“Yes, sir,” replied the negro.

“Was she covered up?”

“No, sir, the sheet didn’t go all over the body.”

“Well, what part of her body was covered up?”

The negro indicated on his own body that portion between the thighs and shoulders.

“Well, the head and feet were not covered up?”
“No, sir.”

“You left her feet hanging out?”

“Yes, sir.”

“How much?”
“I don’t know.”

“How much was her head hanging out?”
“I didn’t pay any attention.”

“After you tied that cloth around her, you pushed your arm through the knot and put her up on your shoulder?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Her head was leaning back?”


Mr. Rosser illustrated this by leaning his own head over the back of the chair. He held up his arm, too.

“Yes, sir, but her arms wasn’t hanging back. They was tied up in there.”

“How much was her feet hanging out?”
“I don’t know, sir. I didn’t pay any attention to that.”

“She reached down just about to your knees, did she?”

Mr. Rosser illustrated, with the ends of the sack hanging over his shoulder, how the negro claimed to have carried the body.

“That’s the way it was,” said the negro. “And her head and her feet were out.”

“You say she was so heavy that you dropped her?”

“I told Mr. Frank I dropped her because she was so heavy.”

“Then she wasn’t too heavy?”
“I don’t know, sir. I told him she was too heavy because I wanted him to help me.”

“Then you were lying to him, were you?”

“I don’t know—I was so nervous and excited.”

“Wait, was she too heavy, or was she not too heavy?”

“Sorter both ways.”


The negro laughed with the court.

“You are a sort of a two ways negro, anyhow, ain’t you, Jim?”

“I don’t know about that.”

“Well, at any rate you dropped her.”

“Well, I let her fall.”

“Well, she just fell from your knees down?”

“I don’t know about that.”

“She was hanging as far down as your knee, wasn’t she?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Hold your leg out here and let the jury see how far she fell.”

The negro extended one leg.

“When you called to Mr. Frank, how far away was he?”

“I don’t know. He was at the top of the steps, and I went to the doors.”

“Well, that’s just about as far as it is from the top of the steps to the street, isn’t it?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Well, outside of the story that you told for Mr. Dorsey, do you know any facts at all about this case?”

Solicitor Dorsey objected, and was sustained. Mr. Rosser amended it.

“Outside of the story you told here, yesterday, is there anything that you know about this case?”

The negro did not give a direct answer, but went on repeating the detail which he gave Monday, but was interrupted by Mr. Rosser.

“How close was you to Mr. Frank when you told him she was dead?”
“I don’t know how far it was. He was standing at the steps.”

“It was then he told you to get the cloth?”

“He first said ‘Sh!’ And then he told me to get the cloth. And I went up to him and told him I didn’t understand. And he told me again.”

“It was then that you looked at the clock, was it?”

Mr. Rosser asked the color of the cloth that the negro got. Conley said he couldn’t tell what color. “Is it the color of that shirt you have on?” Mr. Rosser asked. “No, sir, not that color,” said the negro. “Where’d you get that shirt, anyhow, Jim?”
“My old lady gave it to me,” said the negro.


A brief recess was taken.

When court resumed Attorney Rosser picked up the sack introduced in evidence Monday, and asked: “Was the sack that you had Mary Phagan’s body tied up in the same shape as this?”

“No, sir, it wasn’t tied together at the ends like that.”

“It wasn’t a sack, then?”

“Yes, sir, it had been once—a cotton sack.”

“Well, there wasn’t any cotton in it when you saw it, was there?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, you didn’t’ see any little pieces of cotton in it, did you?”

“I don’t remember any.”

“Was it this quality of goods?”
“I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“Well, finer, then.”

“No, sir, it was thinner than that.”

“Was it woven like this?”

The negro didn’t’ understand the question. “Woven,” repeated Mr. Rosser. “You know what woven means, don’t you, Jim?”
Conley hesitated. “I suppose you don’t know whether cloth is woven, or knit[t]ed or just grows,” said Mr. Rosser.

“I never heard of any growing,” said Conley.

“What did you do with the cloth when you got through with it down there in the basement, Jim?”


“I threw it on the trash pile at the end of the furnace,” said the negro.

“The same place you put the hat and shoe?”
“Yes, sir, right near them.”

“That cloth never came in contact with her head or feet, did it, Jim?”

“No, sir.”

“Now, Jim, as a matter of fact when you were carrying her, you didn’t lift the cloth onto your shoulder, did you?”

“Yes, sir, I did.”

“Didn’t you say yesterday that you couldn’t get it up there?”
“I said I tried and couldn’t the first time, but I said I carried it a little ways on my shoulder.”

“You’re sure you said that, are you?”
“Yes sir.”

Attorney Rosser turned to a transcript of Monday’s testimony and asked, “Now, Jim, isn’t this what you said yesterday?”

And he read the answer in the transcript. It differed inasmuch as Conley had not said then in that answer that he lifted the body to his shoulder.
Conley replied, “No, sir, I don’t remember saying that yesterday.”

“That girl weighed 110 pounds. Couldn’t you carry her without any trouble?”
“No, sir.”

“How much do you weigh?”
“About 150 pounds,” the negro replied.

“And you are twenty-seven years old. Do you mean to tell me you can’t carry 110 pounds?”


“Oh, I can carry it all right, but you asked me if I could carry it without any trouble.”

There was a ripple of mirth in court.

“Now don’t you constantly carry burdens that heavy around the factory?” demanded Mr. Rosser.

“No, sir,” the negro replied, “I’ve always told you I trucked them.”

“You said something about Frank backing up. What do you mean?”
“Mr. Frank had her by the feet and I had her by the head. I was walking backwards, and Mr. Frank was pushing too fast.”

“Both of you were excited?”


“No, sir, I was nervous, but I wasn’t excited.”

“You never told Black and Scott about backing up when you were telling them the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
“I told somebody. I guess it was them.”

“Did you tell Mr. Dorsey on one of his seven visits?”
“I don’t know, sir.”

“You say Frank pulled the elevator cord, and when it didn’t start, he said, ‘Wait and let me get the key?’”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, did you tell Black and Scott that when you were telling them the whole truth?”
“Yes, sir, I told somebody.”

“Was this before or after you got out of jail?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you tell Mr. Dorsey?”
“I don’t know.”

“When you got the elevator down you took the cloth off the body right there, did you?”
“No, sir.”

“Oh, I mean after you carried her back to that place?”
“After I took her to where she was laying, I took the cloth off.”

“How did you leave her back there?”

“I left her feet toward Hunter street, her head toward Alabama street and her face toward Forsyth street.”

“Didn’t you tell Black and Scott that you left her on her stomach, the left side of her face down and her head toward the elevator?”
“No, sir, I didn’t tell ‘em that. I took ‘em and showed ‘em.”

“If you did tell it, it was the truth wasn’t it?”
“I don’t remember telling ‘em that.”

“Frank didn’t go back where you left the little girl?”
“No, sir.”

“He stayed at the ladder?”
“Yes, sir.”

“And you called Mr. Frank back there and asked him what you must do with those things?”

“No, sir, it was just about the furnace when I called to Mr. Frank.”

“Mr. Frank was at the top of the ladder?”
“Yes, sir.”

“How far is the furnace from the top of the ladder?”
“I don’t know, sir.”

“About 150 feet away, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know sir.”

“You had to talk loud enough for him to hear you, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir.”

“When you took her down on the elevator, the front door was [s]till unlocked?”
“I don’t know sir.”

“Well, didn’t you say you left it unlocked when you went upstairs?”
“Well, it was still unlocked then when you went down into the basement?”
“It was, unless Mr. Frank went back and locked it.”

“Did Mr. Frank have any chance to go back and lock it without you seeing him?”
“Yes, sir, when I went back to tie up the body, he was up at the front a good while by himself.”

“Did the little girl have any scratches her face?”


“She had a bruise on her face.”

“Was there any dirt on her face?”
“Yes, sir.”

“On both sides?”
“Yes sir.”

“What did the dirt look like?”
“Just like dirt.”

“Were there any other scratches, besides the bruise on her face?”
“No, sir.”

“What was it you called to Mr. Frank from the basement, when you were coming up toward the ladder?”
“I called to him and asked him what I must do with these things. And he told me just leave ‘em there.”

“Did Frank see you when you were calling to him?”
“I don’t know whether he was looking at me or not.”

“He’d gone up the ladder and was on the first floor, wasn’t he?”
“I reckon so.”

“When he was not in sight?”
“No, sir.”

“He wasn’t in the basement then?”
“No, sir.”

“What did you have in your hand when you called to him?”
“I had the cloth, the hat, the piece of ribbon and the shoes.”

“That piece of ribbon Mr. Dorsey showed you yesterday?”

“No, sir.”

“What kind of ribbon was it?”
“I don’t know, sir.”

“When you were talking to Black and Scott, telling them the whole truth, you didn’t say anything about the hat and the ribbon and the shoe, did you?”
“If I didn’t it was because they didn’t ask me.”

“You told them about the shoe and the hat, but not about the ribbon and the cloth?”
“I told them I pitched ‘em on the boiler in front of the trash pile.”

“Who ran the elevator up from the basement?”
“I did.”

“Then Frank got on at the first floor?”
“Yes, sir.”

“He was standing there in front of the elevator when you came up?”


“Yes, sir, and he jumped on before the car stopped and fell against me.”

“Did you tell Black and Scott, when you were telling them the whole truth, about him falling against you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Just as he got on the elevator he said, ‘Gee, that’s a hard job,’ did he?”
“Yes, sir, he said that when we was going up, between the first and the second floor.”

“The motor and the elevator and the saw were all running?”
“Not the saw.”

“The elevator has got machinery at the top of the building, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, sir.”

“There’s a big wheel up there, ain’t there?”
“Yes, sir.”

“When the elevator goes down to the bottom, it hits the bottom hard, doesn’t it?”
“No, sir, not hard.”

“That wheel up in the top of the building over the elevator doesn’t make much noise, does it?”
“No, sir, not much.”

“Something like the buzzing of a June bug, eh?”
“Yes, sir.”

“And the elevator hits the bottom lightly and doesn’t make any noise?”
“No, sir, it don’t make much noise.”

“That’s a silent elevator, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know what you mean by that.”

“It don’t make any noise.”

“No, sir, not much.”

“From the time you went up to get the cloth till you got [b]ack on the upper floor from the basement, how long was it?”


“I don’t remember.”

“Didn’t you tell Mr. Scott it was 30 minutes?”
“No, sir, I didn’t, Mr. Scott asked me how long it was, and I told him I didn’t know, and he said ‘Was it 30 minutes?’ and I said I didn’t know, and he said ‘Well, I’ll put it that way.’”

The negro denied that he had given the officers any specific statement of the interval.

“How long do you now say it was?”
“About four or five minutes.”

“How long was it from the time you looked at the clock until you left the factory?”
“It might have been about 30 minutes.”

“You said yesterday, Jim, that you left about 1:30. Wouldn’t that make 34 minutes from the time you looked at the clock?”
“I said I wasn’t sure about the time yesterday. I only know that after I went to the beer saloon and ate some sandwiches and then counted the money in the cigarette box, and went back and got a beer and looked at the clock, I saw it was 20 minutes to 2.”


“You said that while you was in the office you heard someone coming, didn’t you?”
“No, sir, I said Mr. Frank said, ‘Here comes Emma Freeman and Corinthia Hall.”

“After you were put in the closet, you said you heard Miss Hall speak?”
“No, sir, I said I heard one lady speak.”

“You said you wrote three notes on white paper?”
“Yes, sir.”

“And one on green?”
“Yes, sir.”

“What was in those notes?”
“I don’t remember.”

“You say he didn’t like the first two notes you wrote?”
“Yes, sir, then I wrote a long one on the white paper and then the one on the green paper.”

“You couldn’t have written those four notes to save your life in five minutes, could you?”

“I don’t know about that?”
“Well, about how long did it take you?”
“About three and a half minutes.”

“Then you sat in the office and talked?”
“I was writing.”

“Didn’t you smoke, too?”
“Yes, sir, at the same time.”

“You were sitting there smoking and writing, and Frank was sitting with his head back, looking at the ceiling and saying ‘I have wealthy people in Brooklyn?’”

“He just said once,” said the negro. “’Why should I hang? I’ve got wealthy people in Brooklyn.’”

“Well, after you had been in the wardrobe, written the notes, and talked about an automobile for his wife, and money for your watch, how long do you suppose that took?”

“I don’t know.”

“Then Mr. Frank took a roll of greenbacks out of his pocket, did he?”

“Yes, sir.”


“There was $300 in it, you say?”

“No, sir, I don’t say there was $300. I say Mr. Frank said there was $300 in it.”

“Oh! And then you gave it back to him?”
“No, sir, not right then. He asked me for it later.”


“Yes, sir.”
“Now in the first statement you never told about that, did you?”

“I don’t remember.”

“And in this first statement you didn’t tell them anything about burning the body, either, did you?”
“I think I did.”

“Did you tell them before you went to jail or after you came back?”

“Well, who was the first man you told? Can you remember?”
“Well, the first ones I can remember were Mr. Starnes and Mr. Campbell.”

“Did you tell Mr. Dorsey?”
“Yes, sir, but I don’t remember wren [sic].”

“A[f]ter Mr. Frank took the money back, you promised him you would come back and burn the body, did you?”
“Yes, sir, I said I’d come back in 40 minutes.”

“And then you went home and went to sleep and forgot to come back, didn’t you?”
“I didn’t forget to come back. I just went to sleep.”

“Well, about these notes, now. Frank said he was going to send these notes to his mother and tell her he had a good negro, didn’t he?”
“No, sir, he didn’t say anything about sending them home to his mother.”

“Didn’t you tell the police that he did?”

“No, sir, I didn’t tell them that. I said he was going to write a letter home and tell her about me, but I didn’t say anything about putting the notes in it.”

“Jim, didn’t you tell the detectives that he did say that?”
“I don’t remember it if I did.”

“You said the other day that when you went up into the metal room, you saw the handle of this parasol. Why couldn’t you see the rest of it?”

“I didn’t say I couldn’t see all of it. I said I could tell it by the handle, though. I couldn’t tell it by the cloth.”


“Now tell us something about that ribbon that you say you carried downstairs. How long was it?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know how long it was?”
“I couldn’t tell. It was folded up.”

“How wide was it?”
“About as wide as your four fingers.”

“What color was it?”
“Something like green.”

“What time did you get home that evening?”
“About half past two.”

“You didn’t see Mr. Frank Monday morning, did you?”
“No, sir.”

“When did you get your hair cut last?”
“Last week.”

“Who cut it?’
“My lawyer and the police and the barber came down to my cell.”

“And they cut your hair?”
“Well, the police didn’t cut my hair. The barber did.”

“Who shaved you?”

“The barber shaved me.”

“Well, did they give you a bath, too?”
“Yes, sir.”

“They put some clean clothes on you, didn’t they?”
“They didn’t. I put ‘em on myself.”

“So the jury could see you like a dressed-up nigger?”
“I don’t know sir.”

“Who bought you that clean shirt?”
“Lorena bought me that.”

“Lorena’s not your wife, is she?”

“No, she ain’t my wife.”

“Who got you your coat?”
“Mr. Starnes went up to the pencil factory about three weeks ago and got it for me.”

“Who bought you those breeches?”
“Lorena brought ‘em to me.”

“They togged you all up. They put those things on you after this case started, didn’t they?”

“Yes, sir, I put ‘em on a few days ago.”


“How’d they bathe you—turn the hose on you?”

“No, sir, they brought me a tin tub.”
“How long were you in the station house before you went to jail?”
“I don’t know, sir.”

“They took you over to the jail and they left you there one day and brought you back to the station house, didn’t they?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Then they took you out of police station and turned you loose and rearrested you, didn’t they?”
“They turned me loose at the door, and I started up the sidewalk, but a man grabbed me in the waistband and started me back.”

“You and your lawyer were perfectly willing for you to stay in the station house?”
“Yes, sir, I had to stay somewhere.”

“You said one day you didn’t want no lawyer, and the very next day you had one, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Well, how’d you happen to get a lawyer?”
“One day at the jail Lorena brought one to me.”

“You said you didn’t want a lawyer—that the police and Mr. Dorsey would look after you, didn’t you?”
“No, sir, I never said that.”

“Lorena brought you a lawyer, and he’s been your lawyer ever since?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Did your lawyer and Mr. Dorsey visit you together?”
“No, sir.”

“And you’ve been locked up ever since you’ve had a lawyer—that is, if you’ve got a lawyer?”
“Yes, sir, I’ve been locked up.”

“You said when you found out Frank wasn’t going to do anything for you, you decided to tell?”
“Yes, sir.”

“You knew Frank was in jail?”
“I heard he was.”


“On Monday at the factory you read all the papers about the crime, didn’t you?”
“No, sir.”

“Not a single paper?”
“No, sir.”

“On Monday, didn’t you get a paper and didn’t you try to read about this crime?”
“No, sir.”

“Jim, do you know Miss Julia Foss?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Didn’t you go to her and ask her to let you have a paper?”
“No, sir.”

“Didn’t you say to her that Mr. Frank was as innocent as the angels in heaven?”

“Didn’t you say this to Miss Foss on Wednesday?”

“No, sir.”

“Didn’t you read the papers in front of Wade Campbell? Didn’t he see you read the papers?”
“No, sir.”

“Do you know Miss Georgia Denham?”
“I don’t think so.”


“Didn’t she charge you with the killing, and didn’t you hang your head and say you didn’t know anything about it?”
“No, sir.”

“Who saw you washing the shirt that Thursday in the metal room?”
“Mr. Holloway and some of the ladies.”

Answering questions, the negro stated that he had gone down into the basement between 8 and 8:30 in the morning and remained a short time. He said that just before he went down into the basement, he was talking to a negro drayman around back. He started to give the negro drayman a drink, but didn’t do it because there wasn’t enough in the bottle. The attorney then questioned Conley about the purchase of the whisky, and Conley said that he bought it on Peters street and went back in the beer saloon with the man who sold it to him, and they both took a drink. He said that the whisky peddler drank so much that he had to knock the bottle from his mouth and he spilled some.

Attorney Rosser then took up the W. H. Mincey affidavit.

“Do you know where Carter and Electric streets are?”
“Yes, sir.”

“You know that house up on the bluff?”


“What’s a bluff?” asked the negro.

The attorney explained, and the negro said there are two houses on the hill.

“Were you there about 2 o’clock on the afternoon of April 26?”
“No, sir.”

“Did you meet there a man who asked you about insurance?”
“No, sir.”

Solicitor Dorsey objected. The name of the man should be stated, said he.

“W. H. Mincey,” replied Mr. Rosser.

“Didn’t he say you had promised to take some insurance?” asked Mr. Rosser.

“No, sir.”

“Didn’t he ask you your name, and didn’t you say ‘Conley?’”

“Nobody asked me my name that day.”

“Didn’t you say I can’t talk to you today. I’m in trouble.”
“No, sir.”

“Didn’t he say, ‘What’s the matter? Have you been in jail?’ And didn’t you say, ‘No, but I’m expecting to go?’”

“No, sir.”

“And didn’t he say, ‘What for?’ And didn’t you say, ‘Murder?’”

“No, sir.”


“Didn’t you say, ‘I killed a girl today?’”

“No, sir.”

“Didn’t he say, ‘What did you kill her for,’ and didn’t you say, ‘That’s for you to find out?’”

“No, sir.”
“Didn’t you jump up and go around the house and say, ‘I’ve killed one today—?’”

The negro interrupted:

“No, sir, I never said that to nobody.”

“Well, didn’t Mincey say, ‘Well, that’s enough. That’s 365 a year?’”

Attorney Rosser questioned the negro next about a statement that he is supposed to have made to a Constitution reporter in the jail on May 21. Mr. Rosser read from a typewritten sheet. The purport of it was that Hugh Dorsey had told Conley to go ahead and talk all he wanted to now.

“No, sir, I didn’t say that. I didn’t know what Mr. Dorsey’s first name was.”

“Well, for your information, Jim, I’ll tell you his first name was Hugh.”


The solicitor objected, saying, “We’ve got a right to know what reporter this was. The rule is that when you are trying to impeach a witness, you’ve got to state the time, the person and the circumstance. If he asks this for the purpose of impeachment, I object to this going into the records.” The solicitor cited an authority to back him up. Mr. Rosser said he didn’t intend to put this in for impeachment, and that he didn’t know the name of the reporter.

Attorney Rosser then questioned him about statements which he is supposed to have made to Harllee Branch and H. W. Ross, Journal reporters, in the jail.

The attorneys pointed out the reporters in court.

“Did you tell them that in your opinion, Mary Phagan was murdered in a toilet room on the second floor and brought out into the metal room?”
“No, sir.”


“Did you tell them that she had been dead about fifteen minutes?”
“No, sir, I don’t remember saying that.”

“Didn’t you tell them that a ribbon and a parasol and a piece of her skirt lay on the floor a few feet from her body?”
“No, sir.”

“Didn’t you tell them that it took at least thirty minutes to get the body downstairs?”
“No, sir.”

Attorney Rosser asked some other questions. As H. W. Ross was leaving the court, Conley pointed him out as a man who had showed a newspaper to him.

“Didn’t you walk away from them and wouldn’t talk to them?”
Conley said, “Yes, sir, a little.”

Attorney Rosser showed the negro a document. It was one of the several statements which Conley made to the police. “You signed this, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir.”

“That’s your handwriting and your name is James Conley?”
“Yes, sir.”

Mr. Rosser handed the paper to Mr. Arnold and requested him to read it to the jury. Mr. Arnold began, “This statement made by James Conley to Detectives Black and Scott, police barracks, Sunday, May 18, 1913.”

Before Attorney Arnold could read further, Solicitor Dorsey interrupted and announced to the court that he objected to a change of counsel.

Mr. Rosser grabbed the paper from Mr. Arnold’s hands and said, “Oh, give it to me!” rather savagely. “Sit down, little Hugh!” Adjusting his glasses, he stated that he didn’t know whether he would be able to read the document or not, because it was written by the detectives.

The statement said that Conley was employed as an elevator boy and roustabout at the factory for the past two years.

“Jim, you don’t know what roustabout means, do you?” asked Mr. Rosser. The negro explained that it meant working about in different places.

Mr. Rosser read on till he came to the word “previous.”

“Jim, what does previous mean?”
The negro admitted that he did not know.

“The man who put that over was a little previous himself, wasn’t he, Jim?”
The negro grinned.

Further along in the document, Mr. Rosser came across the word, “previous,” several times, and emphasized it each time with some humorous remark about it.

“On Saturday, April 26, 1913, I arose”—“What does ‘arose’ mean, Jim?”
“I don’t know, sir.”

“No, Jim, you don’t know what arose means.”

Mr. Rosser continued reading the statement.

The statement continued that the negro arose between 9 and 9:30 a. m., and ate breakfast at 10:30 a. m.; left his house at 172 Rhodes street and went to Peters street, visiting a number of saloons between Fair and Haynes street on Peters street; bought half a pint of whisky from a negro and paid him 40 cents for it; visited the Butt-In saloon; at a pool table in the back, saw three negroes shooting dice.


“You’d say craps, if you had a fair showing, wouldn’t you, Jim?”
The witness admitted that he would.

The statement proceeded that Conley joined them.

“You was shooting craps, eh?”
The statement continued that Conley won 90 cents, and bought some beer, and walked up the street and visited Carly’s beer saloon.

“Jim, you don’t know what visited is or what it means, do you?”
The negro said he didn’t.

The statement proceeded that Conley purchased two beers and wine, paying 10 cents for it; that that was all he money Conley spent on Peters street; that he got back home at 3:30 p. m.

“Do you know what ‘p. m.’ means?”
“It means 3 o’clock.”

The statement proceeded that he found L. Jones there; she asked if he had any money; he said yes, and gave her $3.50, $1 in greenbacks and the rest in silver. The statement showed that on Saturday afternoon the negro sent out and got 15 cents worth of beer and later he sent his little girl out for something to eat, that he stayed at home Saturday night and up to noon Sunday; that he went on Nichols street Sunday and returned shortly and spent the evening with his mother, and reported for work on April 28, Monday.


Mr. Rosser took up a second affidavit dated May 24. The substance of this affidavit was that on Friday before the holiday, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, Frank met him on the fourth floor and told him to come tot his office, that Frank asked if he could write, and gave him a scratch pad on which he wrote “Dear Mother, a long tal black negro,” he wrote that several times; then he wrote something else; Mr. Frank took out a brown pad and wrote something himself; Mr. Frank asked him if he wanted to smoke and handed to him a box containing cigarettes that cost 15 cents.

That he saw some money in the box, two $1 bills and 50 cents in it, and called Mr. Frank’s attention to it when he handed it back; that Frank told him to keep it; that Frank asked about Gordon Bailey; then Frank asked about the nightwatchman, and asked him if he had ever seen the nightwatchman in the basement; that Frank laughed and jollied a little bit and said, “I have wealthy people in Brooklyn. Why should I hang? That Frank held up his head and looked out of the corner of his eye when he said this; that Conley told him not to take out any more money on the watch; that Frank said, “Why did you get a watch? That big, fat wife of mine wants an automobile, but I won’t buy it.”


Mr. Rosser started to read another affidavit and quickly remarked, “This is a copy. I want the original.”

Solicitor started to look in his papers, and said, “I haven’t the original. That copy is the only one I’ve ever had, and I don’t know where the original is.”

Mr. Rosser started reading, but stopped and conferred with Mr. Arnold. Then he told the court that he didn’t want to read anything but the original. Chief Lanford, who is supposed to have the original, was not in court. Mr. Rosser told the court that he had nothing in mind to ask the witness except about the affidavits.

Judge Roan told the jury that it could go back to its room. The jury left.


It was announced that Attorney William Smith, representing Conley, wanted to address the court. Attorney Smith declared that he would like to have the privilege of visiting Conley in his cell and attending to his physical needs if nothing more.

“I don’t know,” said he, “by what legal proceedings Conley was put in the Tower; but I’m not objecting to that. I do feel, though, that I ought to have a right as his counsel to see him and talk to him.
“I had considerable difficulty and unpleasantness in trying to get to him last night. I merely wanted him to have an opportunity to take a bath and to get some clean clothes to him. I had the clothes there, and it was only after much trouble that I finally even got the clothes to him.

“Furthermore, I think it is a reflection on counsel and upon Solicitor Dorsey, a man sworn to carry out the laws, to deny us admission to his cell. I don’t see under what law any man can be placed in solitary confinement and denied to his lawyer. I never heard of it being done before.”

Judge Roan replied that when he gave his orders Monday night he did so with consent of the state and the defense. Solicitor Dorsey arose, and said, “No, sir, I beg pardon of the court. I didn’t consent to it. I simply didn’t object to it. That was all. I wasn’t consulted in the matter.”


Attorney Arnold argued then. He said, “Well, this negro Conley says he doesn’t know how Mr. Smith thinks himself his lawyer. He says his wife brought Mr. Smith into his cell one day and that’s all he knows about it. I’d like to ask the sheriff about this unpleasantness.”

Attorney Smith spoke up and said that there was no unpleasantness except that he was blocked when the tried to send some clean clothes to the negro.

Judge Roan asked: “Well, is there any objection to letting him see his attorney in his cell, if he wants to.”

“Yes. I’ll take the responsibility of entering an objection,” said Mr. Arnold. “I object because it shows that the state and his witness are in too close accord.”

Solicitor Dorsey spoke again. “I am in charge of the state’s case. Of course your honor would not say that in that capacity I would not have the right to interview this or any other witness put up by the state whenever and wherever I choose. I haven’t found it necessary to talk with him yet. But in such event I would ask your honor, and your honor would grant me the permission. I do think, however, that his counsel should be allowed to talk with him.”


“What do you want to talk to him about?” inquired Attorney Arnold, of Mr. Smith.

The latter, addressing his remarks to the court, said: “This witness is almost under as much as an attack as is this defendant. As his attorney, I should have the right to confer with him in order that I may protect his interests. I ought to know the names of persons who can be summoned to substantiate his statements. These I would furnish to the solicitor.”
Attorney Arnold declared that Attorney Smith practically admitted that he wanted to take part in the case. “If he’s waited for two months to get this information from this negro, he certainly can wait a day or two longer.”

Attorney Rosser spoke: “I don’t think any one should be allowed to interview or to re-drill him, be he a solicitor ten times over, be he a lawyer one thousand times over.”

“I understand they want to give him a bath,” said Mr. Arnold. “If Mr. Smith wants to give him a bath let him do it. Let him turn the hose on him if he wants to.”


Solicitor Dorsey: “I’m not asking permission to talk with this negro. If I do find it necessary to talk to him, I will ask your honor’s permission, and will expect you to grant it. It cannot be denied that I would have that right. I am not trying to do anything I ought not to do.”

“No,” sneered Mr. Rosser, “but I don’t think you would hesitate to do a lot of things.”

Judge Roan ruled that Attorney Smith could confer with his client to safeguard the negro’s interests.

Attorney Arnold took an exception to the ruling, and the exception was noted in the records.

Court then adjourned at 5:40, until 9 o’clock Wednesday morning.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, August 6th 1913, “Judge Roan Rules Out Most Damaging Testimony Given by Conley Against Leo Frank,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)