Justice Aim in Phagan Case, Says Hooper

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, June 21, 1913

I have not been employed in the case to prosecute Leo M. Frank, but to help find and convict the murderer of Mary Phagan. If the trial proves we are wrong, we will begin work on another angle. We have but one object and idea. It is that justice and the law be vindicated. We are, however, convinced we have a strong case against the accused.


Mrs. Mina [sic] Formby and her sensational affidavit will not be used by the State in the trial of Leo M. Frank, according to a statement Saturday from Attorney Frank A. Hooper, assisting the prosecution.

Mr. Hooper said the State had never attached any importance to the affidavit, except for the first few days, and that when Mrs. Formby mysteriously disappeared from the city, the State eliminated her from the case entirely and made no effort to locate her. He said time set forth in the affidavit and the alleged facts were at too wide a variance with anything the State expected to prove, and there had been no trouble in making the case without her.

Affidavit Did Not Fit.

“The woman’s affidavit did not fit in anywhere in our case,” said Mr. Hooper. “If it had we would have looked around a long time for witnesses to substantiate it before we put her on the stand. When she left Atlanta we considered her gone for good, and built without her. Mr. Dorsey and myself discussed her statement several times, and we decided she could not be used to any advantage.”

Mr. Hooper said it has been decided to put the Frank case on the calendar for the week of June 30 and the State would be ready for trial on that day.

“When Mr. Dorsey returns from New York to-night or Sunday, we will go into a conference and definitely outline the case to be presented by the State,” said Mr. Hooper. “We had decided to have it called Monday morning, June 30. Unless the defense asks for a continuance, the case will probably be tried then.”

No Weak Points Remain.

He said that he had been acquainted with every bit of evidence that was in the hands of the State and had studied it carefully with the Solicitor. For one week, he said, he and Mr. Dorsey worked incessantly on the sworn statements secured from the probable witnesses.

“Where there was a weak point we either strengthened it or eliminated it entirely. We have not depended on the evidence of any one person alone to build our case on [sic] make it stand up. We are prepared for any emergency, and feel that we have left no stone unturned in our investigation. We are confident there are no more mysterious witnesses to be heard from, for we feel that we have questioned everyone who could possibly know anything of importance.”

Mr. Hooper would not discuss the many conflicting statements of the negro Jim Conley and the part he was expected to play in the State’s case.

The strong probability that Leo Frank will not be called for trial June 30 was discussed Saturday by persons interested in the case. The attorneys for the accused man have stated that they were prepared to go into court at any time, although it is not usual to give the defense so little time in a capital case.

Frank was arrested April 29. If his case is called June 30, only two months will have elapsed since he was seriously suspected of being involved in the crime. More time than this ordinarily is given the attorneys for the defense to investigate every circumstance and story which may point to the innocence of their client.

Continued on Page 2, Column 4.


Attorney Hooper, Prosecutor’s Aide, Declares Justice Is Aim in Phagan Case.

Continued From Page 1.

It is known that Judge L. S. Roan, who will preside at the trial, will be free the weeks of July 14 and July 28. This is interpreted to suggest the possibility that the trial will be postponed to one of those dates.

Reuben Arnold, the probability of whose participation in the Frank trial was indicated by The American three weeks ago, is at Atlantic Beach and will not return to Atlanta until Monday. It was said at his office, however, that definite arrangements for his becoming one of the counsel for the defense had not as yet been made.

Chief Lanford said that the great sheaf of affidavits procured by his department had no use except to guide the memory of his men in their investigations and to hold as a protection in the event of an emergency, such as the sudden change in the testimony of a witness or a disappearance of a witness from the jurisdiction of the court.

Some question had arisen as to the purpose of the large number of affidavits when none of them would be permitted to be introduced as evidence in the trial of Leo Frank, so long as the affiant appeared to testify.

The chief explained that it had been the design of the department to protect itself at all points, and that in case a witness changed his testimony on the stand it would be possible to proceed against him on the charge of perjury.

The affidavits also were obtained to be used in the event that a witness dies before the trial or leaves the jurisdiction of the court.

Defense Also Has Many.

It is known that the defense has in its possession as many affidavits as the prosecution. The attorneys for Frank carefully have investigated every story that has come to their ears, and when it has appeared reliable they have obtained the sworn statement of the person telling of the circumstances.

The main difference in the case of the prosecution and that of the defense is that the contents of most of the affidavits obtained by the detectives are known to the public, while the revelations made to the defense have been most carefully guarded.

Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Frank, made one public statement, but in it he carefully avoided giving any hint that would aid the prosecution in determining who his witnesses were to be or what they would testify.

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The Atlanta Georgian, June 21st 1913, “Justice Aim in Phagan Case, Says Hooper,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)