Playing Practical Jokes on Watchful Bailiffs is Pastime of Frank Jurors

Anybody who has the mistaken idea that it’s fine to be a juror in a big murder trial has only to see Artist Brewerton’s illustration above, of the way the twelve men who are to decide Leo M. Frank’s fate pass their time these days. On them the commonwealth has placed the responsibility of judging the truth of the evidence placed before them day after day in the court room. They are shut off from all communication with the outside world, except what comes to them in open court as sworn evidence and except also what their families write to them in notes that are censored severely by the sheriff’s deputies who always guard them day and night. The routine begins early in the morning and ends when they return to their rooms at night. There they while away the hours with no company but their own. They sleep, eat, walk, and listen to evidence, in a body of twelve. Should one of them fall ill, serious complications might arise in the Frank trial. Should demonstrations from the populace, such as applause or disapproval in the court room or elsewhere, reach them, other complications might ensue, and the whole trial might be vitiated, leaving all the tedious work to be done again.

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

Atlanta Journal
August 10th, 1913

Court Bailiff Charles F. Huber, Who Guards Body in Hotel at Night, Spends Hours in Search of Mysterious Female Voice Which Disrupts His Peace — Deder Townsend Improves His Time While Shut Off From World by Growing Mustache

There are a few pastimes almost as enjoyable as being a juror—such as spending a short vacation in jail, or floating around on the bosom of the deep blue ocean without an oasis in night, for example. The latter diversions have their advantages. In jail a man usually can receive and talk to any callers that happen to drop in, and on the sea he could talk to them if they were present — which is comforting. But on a jury he can’t do either. He has got to forget his past and his future and his present for the time being and devote himself exclusively to the business of being a juror. His mind is not be burdened with mundane things.

The jurors in the Frank trial are having a harder time than any others previously recruited in Atlanta—about two weeks harder. When they get through they will be the champion marathon jurors of the whole south.

A lot of interesting fiction could be written about the Frank jury. There is a good opening for an enterprising enthusiastic young fiction writer. He could dope out a lot of interesting plots which might be received with acclaim by the magazine-consuming public.

For instance, he could write a story on the Enoch Arden style—only with a happy ending about the return to his home of Juror No. 7. He could have the juror come in, be received joyfully by his good wife after properly identifying himself, go into the bath room, and find his razor all nicked up. Thus the plot would thicken and the story return until it ended by Mrs. Juror No. 7, explaining that little Willie, who was expected shortly after the deputy sheriff served pa with a subpoena to come to court, had grown up during Papa’s absence and used the razor for his first shave.

This is only one of a number of thrilling plots which might be conceived.

Fortunately, nothing very far out of the ordinary has happened to the Frank jurors either individually or collectively. They have been unable to collect debts but, on the other hand, they have escaped collectors. So it is a stand off. True, one insurance agent did succeed in getting a policy signed up, but then, they are not deterred by anything, these insurance solicitors. They would be present probably on the deep blue ocean, too—or, in jail.


The principal trouble that the Frank jurors have had is in amusing themselves. After a few days they got permission to read magazines (properly inspected first by deputy sheriffs) and then they were given a plane in their rooms. Thus equipped they haven’t had such a disagreeable time of it. Books and music, however, do not form their only means of amusement. Not by any means of reports to the outside are referred. The twelve Frank jurors did just like any other twelve men in the world, thrown together like they are, would do. They devoted a part of their leisure time to practical jokes. And the time passed quicker.

The jurors usually smoke their goodnight cigar and climb into their various beds about 9:30 or 10 o’clock. A few nights ago, a night when one of these practical jokes was sprung, they got into their twelve suits of pajamas as usual and retired.

They left Court Bailiffs Charles F. Huber and A. F. Pennington on guard in different rooms.

Everything went along as usual for about an hour. That is to say the jurors all dropped off to sleep, and the snores of twelve men took the place of bantering, singing and story telling.

Bailiff Huber was sitting quietly near the door of the room he was watching. He was propped up in a chair which was tilted against the wall. He was steeped in thought, judging from his sphinx-like attitude.

Suddenly, though, all was action.

“O, Mr. Huber, O, Mr. Huber,” came in a tense feminine tone from the door at his side. “Open the door quick.” Huber opened the door enough to stick his head out and look into the hall. It was empty! “Funny,” he thought to himself as he resumed his seat. “I’d would have sworn I heard a voice.” The bailiff just got seated again when the voice came from a door at the other side of the room, one leading into another apartment where there were more jurors.

“Now I wonder,” muttered Mr. Huber to himself, “how that woman got into that room. He made it across the floor in nothing flat. An apartment with twelve jurors in it is no place for a woman!”


Mr. Huber opened the door wide. Imagine his astonishment when he found nobody. A moonbeam struggled in through the window and threw a weird spot on the carpet directly at his feet. There was the regular breathing of sleeping men—and nothing more. It was uncanny. Mr. Huber stood still and wondered for about two minutes. He concluded that he must have dozed off in his chair and dreamed he heard a voice. But it was funny. It had never happened to him before!

Then it came a third time. “O, Mr. Huber, come quick!” You couldn’t fool Huber this time. He knew right where this woman was. She was on the fire escape just outside the window. He crossed the room, pushed up the sash and looked out. There was nobody there. No matter, though, she probably went up the little iron ladder to the next floor. It was a plot to get him out of the room maybe. But it wouldn’t work. No, sir.

Mr. Huber went over and sat down. He was perfectly sure of himself now. If anybody wanted to get him out of that room they would have to come in and drag him out. No woman was going to entice him up a fire escape. He sat there with his hand nearest the pocket which contained his revolver for probably fifteen minutes. At the end of that time Bailiff Huber concluded that the enemy had abandoned the plan of enticing him off.

Suddenly—it sounds preposterous—he heard the voice again. And this time it came from another window in the room where there was no fire escape. Mr. Huber let the voice run on a good long while before he moved this time. He wanted to be sure of his ground. The voice grew louder, more imploring. Bailiff Huber finally got up and went to the window. He found just exactly what he expected to find—nothing.

Court Bailiff Huber, detailed to watch the Frank jury at night, walked around the room all the rest of the night with his gun in his hand, according to a reliable source of information.

He didn’t learn until next morning that A. H. Henslee, who sits at the extreme right of the jury box in the front row, is a ventriloquist.


Juror Deder Townsend, who sits in the front row in the fourth seat from the left of the box, is improving his time since he has severed his worldly connections. He is engaged in the interesting occupation of growing a moustache. There are a number of things on his upper lip that looks like this IIIII They are hairs. The whole jury seems proud of the crop.

Mr. Townsend’s moustache is blond. At this stage of the game it is impossible to tell whether it will curl up or down and, owing to the fact that he cannot be interviewed it cannot be stated what his intentions are for it.

Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner is in a quandry. Almost his whole force of bailiffs wants to get off next week to go to camp meeting. Nearly every one of his subordinates has come to him with a request for a few days off then. And more bailiffs are needed at the Frank trial than any other criminal action in Atlanta’s history. There are a number of bailiffs that will go to the meeting, which is to be held at Ben Hill—but there is a larger number who won’t. The main trouble is choosing the lucky ones.

Mr. Plennie Miner has a bright idea, too. It is one that has made him immensely popular with the press. He is planning a big fish fry near the Chattahoochee river on the first Saturday afternoon after the Frank trial closes. He is going to invite the judge, the lawyers on both sides, the jury, all the court attaches and the newspaper men who have been working on the trial. Besides the fish there will be chicken and something to wash it down with. You can’t say anything about Plennie Miner before a reporter these days!

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Atlanta Journal, August 10th 1913, “Playing Practical Jokes on Watchful Bailiffs is Pastime of Frank Jurors,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)