Trial Experts Conflict on Time of Girl’s Death

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 7th, 1913

Here is a sample of the testimony of Dr. Harris, for the State, given Wednesday afternoon, and conflicting evidence given for the defense by Dr. Childs on Thursday:

Dr. Harris said:

“I want to state that the amount of secretive juice in this stomach was considerably less than would have collected in an hour. The hydrochloride acid had not been in long enough to become free. The amount of confined hydrochloric was 32 degrees. In a normal stomach, the amount would have been 55 or 60 degrees. It was just about the amount one would have supposed to have collected in half an hour or 35 to 40 minutes. I can say with absolute certainty that she was unconscious within 30 or 40 minutes after she ate the cabbage.”

Shortly after the defense opened Mr. Arnold held up a sample of cabbage taken from the Phagan girl’s stomach.

Q. Would you hazard a guess that this cabbage had only been in a stomach one half hour before death?—A. I would not.

Q. Why?—A. For the reasons I have stated. The cause of the psychic influences I know not of that might have been brought to bear and because of the varying effects of stomachs on such a substance.

Q. Do you think a doctor could give an accurate scientific opinion by making such a statement?—A. I do not.

* * *

Atlanta Georgian, August 7th 1913, “Trial Experts Conflict on Time of Girl’s Death,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Roan’s Ruling Heavy Blow to Defense

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 7th, 1913

Judge Roan administered a severe blow to the defense Wednesday when he ruled that all of Conley’s story should stand, although portions of it, he acknowledged, would have been inadmissible had objection been made at the time the testimony was offered.

Judge to Rule as Case Proceeds.

It was a particularly difficult allegation to combat. Unlike many allegations, it was exactly as hard to fight in the event it was false as in case it was founded on fact.

Judge Roan said in regard to the testimony of Dalton that he did not know what it was to be and that he would allow it to be presented so that he might rule on its admissibility as it came up.

Solicitor Dorsey put the final rivet in his case so far as it rested upon the testimony of Conley when at the close of his redirect examination of the negro he brought to light the State’s theory of the disposition that had been made of the Phagan girl’s mesh bag.

Practically no mention of the mesh bag had been made during the week and a half of the trial. The only reference made to it was in the examination of Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of the slain girl, and of the officers who visited the scene of the crime immediately after police headquarters was called by the negro nightwatchman, Newt Lee.

Tells of Mesh Bag.

Mrs. Coleman testified that Mary left home with the mesh bag in her hand. The detectives and policemen all testified that they were able to find no trace of it either the morning after the crime or in the search that had been conducted since then.

“Did you ever see the murdered girl’s mesh bag?” Dorsey asked Conley, just as it appeared that he had finished his questioning.

“Yes, sah, I see it,” Conley replied.

“Where was it?”
“It was right on Mr. Frank’s desk when I went in there to write the notes.”

“Did you see what became of it?”
“Yes, sah; Mr. Frank went and put it in his safe.”

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Trial as Varied as Vaudeville Exhibition

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 7th, 1913

Every Change in Chromatic Scale Rung—All Georgia Types Seen in Court.

By L. F. Woodruff.

Every change in the chromatic scale has been rung in the Frank trial. With the single exception of the skyrocket oratory that will mark the last stage of the trial, everything that has ever been done in the trial of a criminal case has been enacted in the fight to fix on the superintendent of the National Pencil Factory the guilt of the murder of Mary Phagan.

There has been comedy. There has been tragedy. There has been periods as dull as a hookworm victim. There have been occasions as startling as the feat of a circus daredevil. There have been pathos and performances worthy of a clown. The somber has been mixed with the gay until the entire trial seems the work of a futurist artist who has had a hard night with the drinking cups before he started the painting.

Jim Conley was on the stand something like sixteen hours. His story was a ragtime composition, with the weirdest syncopations, and then came Dr. Harris right on his heels and gave evidence full of soundness and learnedness. To the spectators it seemed that they had just heard “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” played and then a Bach fugue for an encore.

One Simple, Other Complex.

Conley’s story was as simple in words as “Old Black Joe,” while Dr. Harris’ was as complex as a Wagnerian overture.

Jim Conley spoke in terms of the street, of the near-beer saloon, of the blind alley crap game. Dr. Harris spoke in the language of the laboratory and the library.

Jim Conley could not enunciate a word of more than one syllable. Dr. Harris was as polysyllabic as the word “heterogeneous.” And the spectators had to gasp after the shift.

Conley’s story, while it was as full of contradictions as a hive is of bees, was as easy to understand as a baby’s “da-da” is to a fond parent. Dr. Harris evidence was as loaded with medical lore as a physician’s library.

And, although it seems impossible, there is more still to come. Before the trial has ended practically every type that Georgia knows will have been paraded in the courtroom.

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Jim Conley, the Ebony Chevalier of Crime, is Darktown’s Own Hero

This shows the Solicitor in an argument at the Frank trial.

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 7th, 1913

By James B. Nevin

Now that James Conley has been dismissed from the Frank trial, now that he has stood safely the fire of Mr. Rosser’s most exhaustive grilling, what of him?

If Frank is convicted, Conley subsequently will be convicted, no doubt, of being an accessory after the fact of Mary Phagan’s murder—and that will mean three years, at most, in the penitentiary.

After that—when the Frank trial, more or less, has been forgotten—Conley will be a liberty to come back amongst the people of Atlanta.

Not far from Five Points, a little due east along one of the big thoroughfares meeting there, there is a negro bootblack who now and then, when he is on the job, which frequently he isn’t, gives me a “shine” so much to my liking that it brings me back on other days.

He is a sort of Jim Conley negro—at least, he has a smattering of education, an ingratiating air, and is polite, particularly when it pays him to be.

Quite without previous design, I stopped at this negro’s stand Wednesday afternoon, and it was not long before he mentioned the famous trial. He having started the conversation, I asked him a few questions—and his replies, given herein in part, rather set me to thinking.

Complimented on All Sides.”

“George,” I said—not that I know his name is George, but that it so happens I address negroes unknown of name that way—“what do your friends down on Decatur street think of Jim Conley’s story over yonder in the big court? Rather clever, negro, Jim, eh?” said I to this bootblack.

“Well, boss, dat Mr. Rosser ain’t made nothing on Jim yit, is he?” replied George.

I ventured the opinion that Mr. Rosser failed, at least, to make Jim out so many different kinds of a liar that his story might not stick in spots.

“Well, boss,” continued my bureau of information, “dem niggers down on Decatur street, dey ain’t talking of nothing but Jim Conley. He’s de most talked about nigger anywhere, I guess. I hears him complimented on all sides!”

“In other words, Jim’s a sort of hero along Decatur street nowadays?” said I.

“Yassir, dat’s it—Jim’s a hero. Niggers all talking about him. He done got de best of de smartest of ‘um. Nobody can’t fool er nigger like Jim!”

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State Ends Case Against Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 7th, 1913

Dalton Corroborates Jim Conley’s Story


With the cross-examination of Dr. H. F. Harris, the State Thursday afternoon rested its case against Leo M. Frank accused of the murder of Mary Phagan.

Dr. L. W. Childs was called by the defense as its first witness to rebut the testimony of Dr. Harris.

The mysterious C. B. Dalton, who was expected to make sensational revelations of incidents in which Leo Frank was alleged to have participated in the National Pencil Factory, proved a very tame and commonplace witness when he was called Thursday.

The most that Dalton could say was that, on several of his visits to the factory, he had seen women in Frank’s office. He told of no compromising situations. He was not even able to identify the women. He did not know whether or not they were members of Frank’s own family. All that he knew was that they did not appear to be stenographers as he never saw them writing.

Dalton, when he was questioned by Luther Rosser, was not even sure of his own birthplace. He thought it was somewhere in Laurens County. He explained his presence by saying that he had gone to the factory with a Miss Daisy Hopkins. He said that he saw Frank in the office with two or three women, and that cool drinks generally were in evidence. On one occasion he said Frank and his visitors were drinking beeer.

Detective Rosser on Stand.

Detective Bass Rosser was on the witness stand for a few minutes and was questioned briefly. He testified that when he saw Mrs. Arthur White the Monday after the crime she failed to tell him that she had seen a negro in the factory the Saturday the girl was killed. He said he did not get possession of this information until May 6 or 7. It is the contention of the State that the defense suppressed these facts.

At the conclusion of Detective Rosser’s testimony, Solicitor Dorsey announced that he was prepared to rest as soon as Dr. H. F. Harris had completed the testimony which was interrupted by adjournment Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Harris was unable to appear when court opened at 9 o’clock. The prosecution had nothing more to present at 9:45 and a recess was taken until Dr. Harris arrived at 11:10.

Reuben Arnold began at once on a cross-examination of Dr. Harris as soon as the physician took the stand. He forced Dr. Harris to say that there is much uncertainty in drawing conclusions about digestive functions and their time limitations.

Solicitor Dorsey also asked for the submission of the National Pencil Company’s cash book and bank book before he rested his case. This was agreed to by Frank’s lawyers.

The defense announced that its first witness probably would be Dr. L. W. Childs, who would be called to start an immediate attack upon the testimony presented by Dr. Harris.

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Ignorance of Negro Witnesses Helps Them When on the Stand

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 6th, 1913

By Britt Craig.

Sometimes it is lucky to be ignorant. Most people don’t believe this, but it has been proven true in the cases of Newt Lee and Jim Conley in facing the nerve-racking cross-examination of Luther Rosser.

The average white man in Jim’s fix would last just several minutes it is likely – perhaps even less. And if he were a cigarette fiend–

There have been many interesting features to the Frank trial but chief of them all is the manner in which these two negroes have stood grilling of attorneys for the defense proving themselves the sturdiest witnesses presented by the state.

Jim Has No Cares.

Equipped for the ordeal by a bath from a fire hose, a clean shirt and a shaved head, Jim Conley faced Mr. Rosser on Monday afternoon without a nerve in his [1 word illegible], with hardly a worry and no idea of what would happen, save that he was going to tell the white folks all about the crime and would have the center of the stage for awhile.

The formidable Mr. Rosser opened up [words illegible] with a voice on the order of a lady lobbyist trying to put through a pet scheme and asked him simple easy little questions, like the spelling of cat and dog and apple.

No Worries for Jim.

Jim answered them all readily, willingly and essayed to spell cat, but overlook the “c”. In its absence he used a “k”. But that was immaterial and Jim never worried. Mr. Rosser wheedled and coaxed and cajoled.

Jim sat in one position, head erect, never turning eyes riveted on those of his questioner. He never used a handkerchief, never ran his hand across his brow, never twiddled his fingers, never shifted his legs. He sat there immobile, impassive waiting for what ever might happen next.

If he couldn’t find answers he’d dart for his various havens of refuge.

“I don’t remember,” “I don’t think so,” maybe “so I don’t know exactly.”

It is an ordeal that but few white men could undergo successfully. To sit in the same cramped position in which he has remained throughout the proceeding is enough to stir any Anglo-Saxon, to a spirit of restlessness. To remain for hours cigaretteless, tobaccoless, is enough to tear the soul of those who indulge.

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Defense Asks Judge Roan to Strike From Records Part of Conley Testimony

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 6th, 1913

At the opening of the afternoon session, Attorney Reuben Arnold arose, asking that the jury be sent from the room. When the twelve men had passed into their ro[o]m, he made a motion asking the court to exclude from Conley’s statement that testimony pertaining to Conley having watched previously for Frank and to an unprintable scene the negro said he had witnessed between the superintendent and a young girl in Frank’s office.

The motion was made on grounds of irrelevancy.

“First,” said Mr. Arnold, “I desire to ask the court to rule out that testimony of Jim Conley’s which pertains to his having watched for the defendant on occasions before the date on which the girl was killed. The defense proposes to withdraw all cross-examination on this point.

Asks Testimony Ruled Out.

“We also desire to withdraw from the records that part of Conley’s statement in which he tells of Frank having told him at the head of the stairway on the second floor of the pencil factory that ‘he was not built like other men,’ the answer Conley made to Dorsey’s question: ‘What did he mean by that?’ and the scene which the witness related.

“It is here in the court. I don’t want to read it aloud before these ladies present, so I will show it to your honor. This, I want ruled out. This scene which the negro alleges he witnessed was brought into the case purely to prejudice the court against the defendant.”

In reply, Attorney Frank Hooper, for the prosecution, said,

“On the first motion to rule out evidence pertaining to other cases of Conley’s having watched for Frank, it comes too late, and to rule it out would give counsel opportunity to tamper with the courts. They have crossed the witness and brought out both direct and indirect testimony bearing on the particular phase. It’s now too late for their objection.

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Mincey Affidavit Is Denied By Conley During Afternoon

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 6th, 1913


After Judge Roan had ruled out the Conley testimony relating to alleged previous actions of Frank, the jury was returned to the courtroom, and Attorney Rosser resumed his cross-examination of Conley.

“Jim, you took the body of that girl, you say, and wrapped her in a cloth, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Was the cloth all around her?”
“No, sir, it didn’t go over her whole body.”

“Did it cover her head?”
“No, sir.”

“Her feet?”
“No, sir.”

“How much of her body was projecting out of the cloth?”
“I don’t know, sir.”

“You tied the cloth in a bundle around the body and put her on your shoulder, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir.”

“Didn’t her head stick out and lean back?”
“Yes, sir.”

Negro Answers Yes.

The attorney arose and stood before the negro, illustrating the manner in which the negro carried the body, asking if he were not correct. The witnessed answered yes.

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Conley Remains Calm Under Grilling Cross-Examination

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 6th, 1913


Jim Conley, upon whose story practically the entire result of the Frank case is believed to rest, went on the stand at 9:03 o’clock and when court adjourned for lunch at 12:30 he was still being cross-examined by Luther Rosser for the defense.

The lawyer had reached that point in his cross-fire of questions where he had begun to hector the witness and to take him up whenever he made a mistake, but it appeared that he was only about half through with his work. When the adjournment was taken Conley was still sticking to the main points of his story in a way that was considered remarkable, although he had admitted discrepancies in many of the minor points and had grown confused over them.

When Attorney Rosser started out Monday his manner was mild, but only throughout the afternoon he worked up to a slightly harsher manner. When he began Tuesday he was using his usual rather abrupt tone of voice.

Solicitor Hugh Dorsey and Frank A. Hooper, his colleague, made frequent objections to the manner in which the cross-examination was being conducted and did, to a certain extent, restrain the defense.

“Jim, you made your second statement to Mr. Black and Mr. Scott on a Saturday, didn’t you?” was the first question Mr. Rosser asked.

“I disremembers the day, boss,” replied Conley.

“You told them, though, that you wrote those notes on Friday?”
“Yes, sir, I tole ‘em dat.”

“They they [sic] told you that that wouldn’t do, didn’t they?”
“No, sir, dey didn’t say nothing about that.”

“Didn’t they tell you that it wouldn’t fit in?”
“They didn’t say them words.”

“Are you sure, Jim?”
“Yes, sir, I’m sure.”

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Conley’s Main Story Still Remains Unshaken

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 6th, 1913


Declaring That “I Don’t Remember,” or, “No, Sir; I Didn’t Say That,” or Simply Affirming Blandly That He Had Lied on a Previous Occasion, Negro Sweeper Sticks to Story Told on the Witness Stand on Monday Morning Despite Most Rigid Cross-Examination of Trial.


Apparently Despairing of Breaking the Negro, Attorneys for Defense Appeal to Judge Roan to Strike All Evidence Relating to Alleged Previous Conduct of Frank Before Day of Murder on Ground of Irrelevancy – State Vigorously Protests Against Such Action and Judge Roan Will Decide Today.

Twelve and one-half hours under the merciless cross-questioning of Luther Rosser, than whom no lawyer at the Atlanta bar has more terrors for the average witness; twelve and one-half hours saying, “I don’t remember,” “No, sir, I didn’t say ‘dat,’” or simply affirming blandly that he had lied on a previous occasion; twelve and one-half hours staring fixedly on a crowded court room; twelve and one-half hours during which time the perspiration or sweat—if you like that word better—failed to dot his brow—

That is the record of Jim Conley, former negro sweeper at the National Pencil factory.

No such record has ever been made in a criminal case in this county.

On Monday Conley was on the stand five hours and a half, and the able attorneys for the defense failed to break him down; failed to rattle him. On Tuesday, after a good night’s sleep at the Tower, Conley resumed the stand and Luther Rosser questioned him for seven hours. Still he did not shake him.

Conley may be telling the truth in the main or he may be lying altogether. He may be the real murderer or he may have been but the accomplice after the fact. Be these things as they may, he is one of the most remarkable negroes who has ever been seen in this section of the country. His nerve seems unshakable. His wit is ever ready.

Lawyers Work In Vain.

As stated in Tuesday’s Constitution, Luther Rosser managed to get Conley to admit he had lied in his previous affidavits; that he had been in jail seven or eight times—he could not tell how often; that he could not remember certain dates; that he tripped himself in regard to his ability to read and write, but that is about all the defense has succeeded in doing. His main story remains unshaken. Of course no one can tell what will come today or what effect Conley’s story and his admissions will have on the jury.

Fails to Break Him.

Apparently despairing of breaking the negro, the attorneys for the defense shortly after court had met for the afternoon session moved that all that part of Conley’s statement relating to the previous times he had watched for Frank and the incident of the young woman whom he claims to have seen in a compromising position with Frank be stricken out.

Luther Rosser had for hours cross-questioned Conley on the times he had watched out for Frank, and he failed to budge him. When this testimony for the state was introduced it was the big sensation of the trial, particularly that part relating to the young woman Conley claims to have discovered with Frank. Second only to the surprise this testimony created was the fact that the attorneys for the defense allowed to go in without any objection. Apparently they had taken the bridle off and were willing for him to go the limit, depending on breaking him down later on and discrediting the whole story.

Solicitor Hugh Dorsey shaped this part of the proceedings in a manner that was masterful. He knew that in allowing Conley to go ahead and tell of these various times he had “watched for Frank” he was paving the way for a possible breakdown of the negro—on that he was giving the defense an advantage which they accepted gladly, but were unable to make anything of.

Judge Roan reserved his ruling on this point until this morning, when he will decide whether the testimony shall go in or be stricken out.

Interest Is Keen.

Interest on this point is keen. The defense, by asking that the testimony be eliminated, virtually admit their failure to break down Conley. If it is left in it will be signal victory for the state, and Solicitor Dorsey will introduce several witnesses to prove the statements made by Conley. On this point he has already declared his intention.

When court adjourned Tuesday Conley was still on the stand and he will be on the stand today when court opens.

Just how long he will be kept on the stand is a matter of speculation. When adjournment hour came Tuesday Luther Rosser had gone all over Conley’s testimony time and again and was asking questions about his treatment at the jail and other matters having little bearing on his main story.

From present indications the trial will run for fully ten days, and possibly two weeks longer. The state will have other witnesses to introduce after Conley leaves the stand, and he may be on the stand for some days yet.

* * *

Atlanta Constitution, August 6th 1913, “Conley’s Main Story Still Remains Unshaken,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

“He Shore Goes After You” Says Conley of Mr. Rosser

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

Atlanta Journal
August 6th, 1913

Jim Made for a Newspaper and a Cigarette as Soon as He Left the Stand—He Is Interviewed Through Medium of His Attorney

Jim Conley wasn’t garrulous after he left the witness stand Wednesday morning, and that’s saying the least of it.

Perhaps Jim figured that he had done enough talking to last him a few weeks.

He went into the reporters’ room first and sat down and heaved a sort of sigh. Then he picked up an edition of The Journal and commenced to read about himself.

A reporter turned from the telephone and said something to him, and thereupon a deputy sheriff, standing [1 word illegible], gave an imitation of a balloon ascension.

About that time William M. Smith, Conley’s lawyer, stuck his head through the door. It was the first chance the lawyer had been allowed, since Conley went on the stand, to talk to him.

“Come over here, Jim,” said Attorney Smith, and led the negro across the hall into a little ante-room.

Jim shucked off his coat as he crossed the hall, and made for a chair, stretched out his legs, and heaved another sort of a sigh. He sat there, gazing out the window, his eyes on the face of a brick wall some distance away.

A reporter came in.

“How about it, Bill,” said he. “Let me talk to him.”

“Sorry, old man,” said the lawyer, “but you see they’re already trying to get some of you boys balled up about a story some time ago, when Conley was in jail. Jim, don’t you say a word to anybody, do you hear?”
“All right,” said the reporter. “Then you do the talking. Ask him what he thinks of Rosser.”

Attorney Smith, “What do you think of Rosser, Jim?”
Jim gave a combination of snicker and a laugh. He waged his head expressively.

“He shore does go after you, don’t he?” said Jim.

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Mincey Ready to Swear to Conley Affidavit

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

Atlanta Journal
August 6th, 1913

Declares Negro Told Him He Had Killed a Girl—Waiting as Witness

W. H. Mincey, the man who has made an affidavit in which he swears that Jim Conley told him on April 26, the day Mary Phagan was murdered, that he had killed a girl that day, appeared at the court house Wednesday morning but did not go into the court room.

Mincey was seen by a Journal reporter as he stood across the street from the court house and watched the crowd seeking entrance. He declared that he was ready to take the witness stand and to back up his statement. When asked whether he had seen Conley since the day that he claimed the negro confessed to him, he declined to answer.

Mincey says that he has been teaching school at New Salem, near Rising Fawn, in Dade county, Ga., and that school adjourned in order to permit him to come to Atlanta to testify in the Frank case.

* * *

Atlanta Journal, August 6th 1913, “Mincey Ready to Swear to Conley Affidavit,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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.”

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Judge Roan Reverses Decision on Conley Testimony

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

Atlanta Journal
August 6th, 1913

Conley’s Whole Testimony Will Be Allowed to Stay in Record of Frank Case

State Ready With Corroborating Witnesses, if Evidence Is Held to Be Admissible—Jim Conley Adds New and Sensational Feature to His Testimony, Declaring He Saw Frank Place Mary Phagan’s Pocketbook in the Factory Safe


Those Responsible for Applause Were Immediately Ejected From the Court Room—Dr. H. F. Harris Expected to Resume Stand During Afternoon—State Will Furnish Presentation of Its Case by Thursday but Hardly Before

Judge L. S. Roan, presiding at the trial of Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil factory, who is on trial charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, Wednesday afternoon reversed himself in his ruling made Tuesday striking out portions of Jim Conley’s testimony. The judge made his ruling Tuesday but withheld announcing it to the jury until Wednesday. His reversal means that Conley’s testimony that he acted in the capacity of a “lookout” for the accused superintendent on days prior to the day of the tragedy, and also his testimony accusing Frank of perversion remains in the testimony. It also means that Solicitor Dorsey will be allowed to present evidence corroborating the negro sweeper as to Frank’s attitude toward him and his conduct to the negro’s presence.


Jim Conley, who left the witness stand at 11:10, after sixteen hours of direct and cross examination, added sensational feature to his testimony Wednesday by the declaration that he saw Frank take the mesh bag or pocket book carried by Mary Phagan from the desk in his office and placed it in the safe. So far as the public knows the mesh bag has never been found.

Over the protest of the attorneys for the defense, Solicitor Dorsey managed to get before the jury that Frank had refused to face his accuser, Jim Conley, when the detectives sought to arrange an interview at the tower.

For the first time since the trial has been in progress applause broke out in the court room when Solicitor Dorsey after a dispute with counsel for the defense over testimony given by Detective Scott, was sustained by the reading of the court stenographic notes. Dorsey had contended that Scott testified that Frank told him on April 28th about Mrs. White’s having seen a negro near the foot of the stairs on the day of the tragedy. Although the defendant had given this information to the Pinkerton detectives on April 28 declared the solicitor, it was May 7 before the state’s detectives knew about it. When the stenographer’s report of Scott’s testimony was read, sustaining the solicitor, applause broke forth in several parts of the court room at once. Those responsible for it were immediately ejected by the deputie [sic].

Dr. H. F. Harris is expected to take the stand Wednesday afternoon and finish his testimony. He will probably be under cross-examination for an hour or more. The state expects to finish the presentation of its case Thursday.

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Judge Will Rule on Evidence Attacked by Defense at 2 P.M.

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 6th, 1913

As soon as court opened Mr. Rosser asked the judge if he was ready to hear argument on the proposition to eliminate parts of Conley testimony. He said he was prepared to support his motion with authorities.

Judge Roan replied that he would postpone this decision until 2 o’clock.

Solicitor Dorsey declared that he had witnesses he expects to put on the stand Wednesday morning to substantiate the part of the negro’s testimony in dispute. He said:

“I just want the court to understand that I am going to do this.”

Judge Roan replied:

“I’ll give you the benefit of whatever you bring out.”

Conley was then recalled to the stand for the conclusion of his cross-examination.

Jim Conley was the same cool, unafraid negro when he returned to the stand Wednesday morning in the trial of Leo Frank after almost two whole days under the cross-examination of Luther Rosser. He had passed through fire and didn’t seem to mind it. He had no fear of anything that was yet to come.

Mr. Rosser might threaten him or might joke with him; it was all the same to the negro. He had tried both and had established but one thing—that Conley is a liar, and Conley admits that.

Arnold might describe him as “that miserable wretch in the witness chair,” he could gaze calmly out the window as he had done before. He didn’t quite understand all those names they were calling him, anyway.

If, in all the time that Conley was under the raking fire of Rosser’s cross-examination, he was disturbed in the slightest degree it was when he was being asked about that mysterious affidavit of William H. Mincey.

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Dorsey Accomplishes Aim Despite Big Odds

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 6th, 1913


Practically the entire case on which the State of Georgia bases its claim on the life of Leo Frank to pay for that life taken from Mary Phagan is before the jury.

Most of the remaining evidence of importance, which the Solicitor General may introduce merely will be rebuttal to testimony, presented by Frank’s counsel.

Whether the evidence presented is strong enough to convict is a question for the jury to decide. Whether the testimony introduced by the defense will be convincing enough to cause the reasonable doubt which the law says shall make Frank a free man or whether the defense’s attack on the State’s case has been of sufficient strength to create a question in the minds of the jurors, time alone will tell.

But this fact remains unchallenged: Every single thing that Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey declared in advance that he would get before the jury is there now. It may not be enough to convict, but the case which the State said fastened the crime on Leo Frank has been put in evidence.

Dorsey Had Huge Task.

One by one the prosecutor has forged the links in the chain that he maintains fixes the guilt of the Phagan murder on Leo Frank and Leo Frank alone.

It has been long, tedious work. Dorsey has had to fight against considerable odds, but his work has been well done.

When the defense has its innings, the chain may be torn asunder as though struck by lightning, but that will be the work of the skilled attorneys who are fighting to save the life of the pencil factory superintendent.

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Crowd Set in Its Opinions

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 6th, 1913


The impression persists that courtroom crowds are made up in the main of two classes, as follows:

(1) People who take it for granted that any person being tried on any charge in any court is guilty, and then some.

(2) People who are constitutionally incapable of believing anybody is guilty of anything whatever.

That is one powerful impression gained at the Frank trial. It is an impression sticking out pointedly in the wake of the Thaw trial, and the Nan Patterson trial, and the Beatty trial, and the Hyde trial.

All three of the Hyde trials, in fact.

Never an Opinion Altered.

At the risk of being convicted of exaggeration in the first degree, the writer, who was rather intimately associated with the celebrated poison case, would estimate that 18,397 persons expressed in his hearing what they insisted were unalterable opinions as to the guilt or innocence of the accused physician before the jury in the first trail had been impaneled.

And of the 18,397 (estimated) not one single instance is recalled of one single opinion being altered.

The fact that the physician was convicted on his first trial made not the least difference to those who believed him innocent.

Court Ruling Mattered Not.

The fact that the Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further trial made not the least difference to those who voted guilty.

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Can Jury Obey if Told to Forget Base Charge?

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 6th, 1913

By James B. Nevin.

“Gentlemen of the jury, having heard from James Conley, the blackest, most damning story ever told in Atlanta by one human being against another, having sat there and listened as he smudged with unspeakable scandal the defendant in this case, Leo Frank, although it is irrelevant, immaterial, and has nothing to do with this case, you will kindly forget it, being on your oaths as jurymen to consider the evidence declared competent!”

And the jury, being like most other juries, in one way or another, and having heard all the things as aforesaid, will promptly proceed to do as instructed about forgetting it—NOT!

I have heard juries told too many times to “forget” things—such, for instance, as that there is no such thing as “unwritten law” in this land of the free and home of the brave—and I have seen too many times those very same juries proceed to “forget”—NOT!

Juries are, after all, composed of mere human beings, and things such as Conley said to the Frank jury can NOT be forgotten, and will NOT be disregarded by the average jury.

Merely Question of Belief.

It is merely a question of whether the jury BELIEVES the negro!

There was something infinitely pathetic in the situation Tuesday, when court met in the afternoon.

For one thing, it brought to the cheeks of the defendant’s wife, always and ever at his side, the first tears I yet have seen fall from her eyes.

She has borne herself with amazing fortitude thus far—the wonder is that she has not long ago collapsed.

When Reuben Arnold, moving to strike from the record the vile story of Jim Conley, paused a second before reading the exact words he desired expunged, looked a moment in the direction of the defendant’s wife, and said, with no show of the spectacular whatever, “Your honor, I would prefer not to read this in the presence of these two ladies, and I therefore pass it to your honor that you may read it in silence!” The moment was tense and tragic!

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Accuser of Conley is Ready to Testify

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 6th, 1913

Deplores Newspaper Publicity, but Poses Merrily for the Camera Brigade.

W. H. Mincey, the school teacher and insurance solicitor who made an affidavit that Jim Conley confessed to him that he had already killed a girl that day and didn’t want to kill anyone else, was the center of attention for the crowd on the outside of the courthouse Wednesday mornin[g].

While deploring newspaper publicity, he readily agreed to pose for a group of newspaper photographers, assuming many poses, some of which were rather grotesque. He followed this with implicit instructions to the photographer that his picture was not to be printed in the papers.

Efforts to get him to state whether he had seen Jim Conley since his arrest proved futile. Mincey declared he would make this statement or answer until he had taken the stand.

Mincey was located at New Salem, Ga., near Rising Fawn, in Dade County. He is teaching school there, his work being the preparation of students to enter the Martha Berry School at Rome.

“I will not talk of the case and will not tell my story until I take the stand,” said Mincey. “If Jim Conley killed little Mary Phagan, I feel that it is my duty to tell of the experience I had with him that Saturday afternoon. I don’t think this thing should be discussed in the newspapers, though. I regard newspapers as a necissity. These matters should be left to the court hearings. It is a loss to me to be here and I trust the case will soon be over. I think, though, that it is my duty to tell what I know.”

Mincey is a man of small stature with piercing eyes and a gray mustache. He wears a black felt slouch hat and a dark suit.

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Atlanta Georgian, August 6th 1913, “Accuser of Conley is Ready to Testify,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Conley Swears Frank Hid Purse

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 6th, 1913

Sweeper’s Grilling Ends After 151/2 Hours, His Main Story Unshaken


That Mary Phagan’s silver-plated mesh bag, mysteriously missing since the girl’s bruised and lifeless body was found the morning of April 27, was in Leo Frank’s office a few minutes after the attack and later was placed in the safe in Frank’s office was the startling statement made by the negro Conley Wednesday in the course of his re-direct examination by Solicitor Dorsey. At 11:10 the negro left the stand after being questioned for fifteen and one half hours.

This testimony was the sensation of the forenoon. Throughout the more than three months of the murder mystery an unavailing search was made for the mesh bag, the city and Pinkerton detectives being convinced that the finding of the bag would go a long distance toward pointing out the person guilty of the Phagan girl’s murder.

“Did you ever see a silver mesh bag that Mary Phagan carried?” inquired the Solicitor.

“Yes, sah,” replied Conley. “I see it right on Mr. Frank’s desk when I went in there.”

“What became of the mesh bag?” continued Dorsey.

“He went and put it in his safe,” the negro said.

First Word of Mysterious Bag.

It was the first information, authentic or otherwise, that had come to light regarding the disposal of the mesh bag. The homes of Newt Lee and Jim Conley had been searched high and low for the bag or any other clew to the perpetrator of the crime. Except for a vague rumor that a mesh bag had been found by a negro in a shop on Decatur street, a story which later was found to have no connection with the Phagan mystery, not the slightest clew ever was discovered to the whereabouts of the bag which so strangely had disappeared.

Attorney Rosser’s manner was angry and threatening when he arose for the re-cross examination. He began at once a vicious attack on Conley’s story of the mesh bag. He asked when Conley first told this remarkable tale. Conley said he couldn’t remember.

“Why didn’t you tell all this when you were telling ‘the whole truth’ to the detectives?” Rosser shouted.

The attorney apparently sought to create the impression that the mesh bag story was an afterthought and that it was manufactured by the negro when he heard of the search the detectives were making for the bag.

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