Jury Is Determined to Consider a Bill Against Jim Conley

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

The Atlanta Journal

Saturday, July 19, 1913

Protest of Solicitor Fails to Stop Session to Consider Phagan Evidence on Monday


Solicitor Says Frank Defense Wants Jury to Try Him Drawn From the Grand Jury List

Grand Jurors Who Will Consider Conley’s Case

This is the Fulton county grand jury which has been called to meet Monday over the protest of the solicitor to take up the case of Jim Conley, the negro sweeper at the National Pencil factory:
W.D. Beatie, foreman.
T.C. Whitner.
John S. Spalding.
W.C. Carroll, East Point.
H.B. Ferguson.
Garnet McMillan, East Point.
Edward H. Inman.
A.W. Farlinger.
M.A. Fall.
Julius M. Skinner.
Oscar Elsas.
George Bancroft.
W.H. Glenn.
S.E. McConnell.
Thomas J. Buchanan.
Sameuel A. Carson.
Eugene Oberdorfer.
A.Q. Adams.
W.O. Stamps.
W.T. Ashford.

There are only twenty citizens on the grand jury which has been called to meet Monday by Foreman W.D. Beattie to consider indicting James Conley, the negro sweeper, for the murder of Mary Phagan.

As it takes eighteen grand jurors to form a quorum, it is extremely likely that when the body meets at 10 o’clock there will not be enough members to proceed with business.

The lack of a quorum, when the meeting is first called, however, will not halt procedure on the case if the grand jurors present wish to go ahead, for the foreman can then call on a judge of the superior court to summons talesmen grand jurors to complete the panel.

The talesmen will be brought immediately to the grand jury room and the consideration of the proposed indictment can proceed immediately.

The average grand jury is made up of twenty-three men in order that five may be absent and jury work still proceed. However, as this is an “off term,” and it was generally supposed that the grand jury would have little business, only twenty citizens were empanelled.


Solicitor Dorsey will fight every move in the attempt to indict Conley before the trial of Leo M. Frank, who has already been charged with the Mary Phagan murder by a previous grand jury. That the solicitor general will personally appear before the grand jury when it convenes Monday and urge that Conley not be indicted at this time, is almost certain.

It has been generally predicted, however, that since the members of the grand jury have called the meeting to consider the matter over his vigorous protest that they will not stop until they have heard the evidence against the negro.

Solicitor Dorsey refused to make any statement Saturday saying that he had nothing to add to the interview published exclusively in Friday’s Journal.

The statement that the lawyers acting for the defense of Leo M. Frank, accused of the murder of Mary Phagan and soon to be tried, have asked the judges of the superior court to order that veniremen for possible jury serv-[…]

(Continued on Last Page, Column 5.)


(ontinued [sic] on Page 6, Col. 1.)

[…]ice in the trial be drawn entirely from the grand jury list of some 1,000 names instead of from the petit jury list of about 6,000 names, was made Saturday by Solicitor General H.M. Dorsey.

“I did not believe that the grand jury will indict Conley for the murder after it knows the true state of affairs, any more than I believe that the judges of the superior court will accede to the request of the defense that the jurors to try Frank be drawn from the grand jury,” declared the solicitor.

At 2 o’clock, when Solicitor Dorsey made his charge, it was impossible to reach any of the attorneys for the defense of Frank to secure a statement from them.


Both the state and the defense are going steadily ahead with preparations for the Frank trial, which has been set for Monday week. The trial, which is expected to last from two to three weeks, is dreaded by the attorneys, the witnesses, court attaches and others who will have to be in the court room. It is certain that hundreds of curious people will crowd into the court room and a repetition of the famous Grace trial, when every moment it was expected that people would be overcome by the stifling heat, is very probable.

Judge L.S. Roan has already announced that he will not hold the trial in the stuffy court room on the fourth floor of the Thrower building, where the Grace trial was held, but the court room on the first floor of the old city hall, where the Frank trial will be staged, is very little better.


Court attaches are making every possible preparation for the comfort of the jurors, the witnesses, the attorneys and others interested, but on account of the intense heat of this season of the year, the trial is being anticipated with terror.

It was learned Saturday that the list of 150 veniremen, from which twelve jurors to decide Frank’s fate will be chosen, will be drawn by a judge of the superior court on next Thursday.

Judge L. S. Roan will probably be out of the city at that time, and the drawing of the evniremen [sic] will fall to one of the judges in the civil division of the superior court, probably Judge John T. Pendleton.

The defense of Frank will make a statement Saturday evening in reply to the attack by William M. Smith, attorney for Conley, on the grand jury because Monday’s meting [sic] has been called over the protest of the solicitor.


Following the exclusive announcement in Friday’s Jurnal [sic] that W.D. Beattie, foreman, has called a meeting of the grand jury for Monday to consider the indictment of James Conley for the Mary Phagan murder, a sensational development is a statement to the public from William M. Smith.

Mr. Smith, who is the attorney representing the negro Conley, intimates that an unseen force is behind the unprecedented action of the grand jury, and says in his statement:

“When they meet I would like for them (the grand jury) to first investigate the movement that seems to have stirred their enthusiasm.”

In the course of his statement Mr. Smith pays a high tribute to Solicitor Dorsey, ad [sic] attacks the grand jury for calling Monday’s meeting over his protest.


Mr. Smith’s statement is as follows:

“I notice Foreman Beatie has called the grand jury to meet Monday. When they meet I would like for them to first investigate the movement that seems to have stirred their enthusiasm. I wish the press could afford to publish what I have the nerve to say about this latest move.

“If they meet, I do not doubt they will indict Jim all right. If they get up inspiration enough to run over the state’s sworn counsel in getting together they can see their way to indict.

“Jim Conley has been dealing fairly with the state of Georgia. His story has been an open book to the sworn, trusted prosecuting officers of this state. He is not skulking coward-like behind the protection of iron bars, nor have his lips been sealed with tomb-like silence, until he can spring suddenly in a court, a well-prepared statement, which the state has no opportunity to investigate and disprove. Conley allows himself grilled, cross-examined and unceasingly questioned by the representatives of the state. He is talking and talking now. Conley says to the state of Georgia, here is my story, investigate it, sift it, and prove it a lie, if you can.

“What more could the grand jury ask? Conley is giving the state a square deal; Conley is remaining a voluntary prisoner, and no honest citien [sic] doubts that he will be held to account for his part in this terrible tragedy.


“If the grand jurors do not want to please Frank and his friends, if they do not want to help clear Frank they had better leave this alone, for the present. The good people of this county elected Hugh Dorsey as the solicitor general. Under the law, this makes him the legal adviser of the grand jury. There is not a business man on the grand jury that does not follow in his own affairs the advice of the lawyer of character and ability, to whom he goes for counsel. Let the grand jury do wtih [sic] the public business what they would do with their own matters, follow the advice of the sworn representative of the good people of this county.

“Does the grand jury think their legal judgment or their personal integrity above that of our solicitor general, or do they doubt the professional or private character of Hugh Dorsey? The people of this county know that Dorsey is straight; that in this case he is fighting brains, money and influence. I know that he is standing by what he thinks right, and with constant threats thrown at him that they will defeat him at the next election and with every handicap thrown in his way in the discharge of his duty in prosecuting a white man who has wealth and influence. It is the supreme test of a man’s good character, and I glory in the fact that Hugh Dorsey has those high and honorable traits of his good father and mother that enables him to know the right, and, knowing the right, to dare to do it.



The Journal’s exclusive story of Friday telling that the Pinkreton [sic] detectives, who long held to the theory that Leo M. Frank was guilty of the murder which occurred April 26 in the factory of which he was superintendent, now believe in his innocence and in the guilt of Conley, has occasioned wide comment.

Chief Detective N.A. Lanford has issued a statement in which he says that in his opinion the theory of the Pinkertons, who have rendered the state valuable aid in working the murder case, has not changed.

Harry Scott, field chief of the Pinkertons, however, still refuses to commit himself.

“The Pinkertons at the coming trial, or at any other that may result in the case, will give fair and impartial testimony,” he said. “Whether our testimony affects Frank or the negro is no concern of ours.”

Further than that Scott would not talk, sidestepping all questions relative to his theory.

The report that the Pinkertons are trailing W.H. Mincey, who claims in an affidavit that Conley confessed the crime to him, is erroneous.

Mincey is known to be at Rising Fawn, Dade county, Georgia, where he is now teaching in a district school.

A Journal correspondent reached Mincey Friday afternoon, following a report that he had disappeared, and the teacher-solicitor said that he would certainly be on hand at Frank’s trial or at any other time that he may be needed.

He maintains that Conley told him on the afternoon of April 26 that he had killed a girl.

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The Atlanta Journal, July 19th 1913, “Jury Is Determined to Consider a Bill Against Jim Conley,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)