Mistrial Near When Jury Saw a Newspaper in Judge’s Hands

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

Inadvertent Action of Judge Roan Caused Quick Conference Between Attorneys for the Defense in Frank Case.


Dr. J. W. Hurt, County Physician, Takes Stand to Tell of Examination of the Dead Body of Girl—Testimony Conflicts With Harris’ at Times.

Practically nothing new was adduced from the testimony at Saturday’s session of the Leo M. Frank trial.

But by far the session—which lasted from 9 o’clock until 1 o’clock, adjournment being had until Monday—was fought with the keenest interest of any thus far held.

This was due to the fact that for a time it looked as if a mistrial might be called for by the attorneys for the defense, when inadvertently Judge Roan held up a copy of one of the afternoon newspapers containing a conspicuous headline in red ink in such a position that members of the jury could see it.

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Defense Claims Members of Jury Saw Newspaper Headline

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

Atlanta Journal
August 2nd, 1913


Jury Is Sent Out of Room While Attorneys for the Defense Tell the Court That the Jurymen Were Seen Reading Red Headline, “State Adds Links to Chain” — Judge Then Calls Jury Back and Cautions Them


In His Address to the Jury, Judge Roan Declared That They Must Not Be Influenced by Anything They Had Read in the Newspaper, but Must Form Their Opinion Solely on the Evidence That Was Developed in Court

A red headline in a newspaper, held in the hands of the presiding judge, came near causing a mistrial Saturday about noon in the case against Leo M. Frank.

While the defense did not ask the court to declare a mistrial in the case, it seriously considered in a conference of attorneys, asking that the case be stopped, and while apparently satisfied with an admonition to the jury to disregard anything they might have seen in a paper, it is probable that the incident will be a part of the basis for an appeal, in event the verdict goes against the defense.

During the course of the discussion of the incident Solicitor Dorsey contended that the jurors had not seen the headline.

During the progress of the trial Judge L. S. Roan picked up an extra edition of an afternoon Atlanta newspaper bearing an eight column red headline touching on the case before the jury. The headline read:

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Roan Holding Scales of Justice With Steady Hand

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 2nd, 1913


Emotion’s entire gamut is daily run on the screen of faces watching the Frank trial.

A student of facial expression can find anything he seeks by watching the throng of spectators a half hour.

A glance at one man may show a sneer of hate as bitter as gall. His neighbor in the next seat will probably be smiling in amused content as if her were witnessing the antics of his favorite comedian.

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Frank Trial Will Last One Week And Probably Two, Attorneys Say

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

Atlanta Journal
July 29th, 1913

Indications Are That Trial Will Be Longest Over Which Judge Roan Has Presided, To Hold Two Sessions Daily

Attorneys both for the defense and for the prosecution of Leo M. Frank believe that his trial will last at least one week, perhaps, two weeks.

If the trial continues through more than one week it will be the longest over which Judge L. S. Roan has ever presided.

But, while he will expedite the trial as fast as possible, he intenrs [sic] to give attorneys all the time needed for the introduction of testimony and for argument.

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Frank Watches Closely as the Men Who are to Decide Fate are Picked

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

This newspaper article is a continuation from the first page of an Atlanta Georgian newspaper. The first page is missing from our archives. If any readers know where to obtain the first part of this article, we would appreciate any help! Thank you!

[…] Mary Phagan by strangulation. This was followed by the request of the defense that the State’s witnesses be called, sworn and put under the rule.

The prosecution opened by announcing its readiness to go on with the trial and called the list of witnesses. Bailiffs brought them down from the second floor. In regular order called, their names were: Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan; J. W. Coleman, the girl’s stepfather; George Epps, newsboy; L. S. Dobbs, policeman; W. W. Rogers, bailiff for constable; L. S. Starnes, detective and also prosecutor on the indictment; Pat Campbell, detective; Grace Hicks, girl who identified Mary Phagan’s body; J. M. Gantt, once held for inquiry, now supposed, to be a star witness for the prosecution; Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective; R. P. Barrett, pencil factory employee; B. P. Haslett, policeman; M. [sic] V. Darley, factory employee; W. A. Gheesling, undertaker that cared for the girl’s body; Dr. Claude Smith, City Bacteriologist; Dr. H. F. Harris, member of the State Board of Health; Dr. J. W. Hurt, Coroner’s physician; E. L. Parry, court stenographer; E. S. Smith, Monteen Stover, girl employee at pencil factory; Minola McKnight, cook at Frank’s home; Albert McKnight, Minola’s husband (McKnight did not appear in court); Helen Ferguson, Mrs. Arthur White, wife of factory employee, and L. Stanford.

Agree on Conley Affidavits.

Attorney Reuben Arnold asked concerning the duces tecum that he had served on the State’s attorneys for the affidavits of Jim Conley and others. On the promise of Solicitor Dorsey that he would produce the affidavits whenever needed the duces tecum was waived.

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State Bolsters Conley

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Solves Discrepancies of Time

Mistaken Identity To Be Plea

Leo M. Frank Goes to Trial for the Slaying of Mary Phagan Monday, With Both Prosecution and the Defense Confident.

All Preparations Are Made for Big Crowds—Judge Roan to Be on Bench, Despite Recent Illness—Bitter Battle Expected.

Leo M. Frank will go on trial for his life to-morrow forenoon. With the beginning of the great legal battle, hardly more than 24 hours distant, it has been learned that the prosecution has overcome to its own satisfaction the greatest obstacle with which it has been confronted—the reconciling of the negro Conley with that contained in the statements of all the persons who visited the factory and were seen by Conley the day that Mary Phagan was murdered.

The most powerful argument against the truthfulness of the remarkable affidavit in which Conley told of helping Frank dispose of the body of the slain girl was contained in the fact that Conley’s original story in its designation of the time of various occurrences at the factory was in direct conflict with the statements of a number of the factory employees.

Miss Mattie Smith, one of the young women working for the National Pencil Company, told when she was first questioned of leaving the factory at about 9:30. Foreman M. B. Darley walked down the steps with her and said at the Coroner’s inquest that the hour was about 9:30.

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Frank Will Likely Face Trial Monday for Phagan Crime

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

Atlanta Journal
July 25th, 1913

Defense Subpoenaes 150 Witnesses, and If Any of the Chief Witnesses Are Ill, Continuance Can Be Asked


Indications Now Are That Defense Will Make No Effort to Have Trial Put Off—144 Veniremen Summoned

The stage is set for the trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan on April 26.

Veniremen and witnesses for the defense are being summoned. The witnesses for the state are already under subpoena.

Judge L. S. Roan, who was ill Thursday, is better and ready for the trial. Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey will insist on a trial.

The attitude of the defense alone is problematical. Neither the state nor the defense is required to announce ready or not ready before a case is actually called in the court room, and apparently there will be no intimation from the defense until 9 o’clock Monday morning, when the clerk calls the name of the defendant in Atlanta’s most sensational murder case.

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Frank Trial Delay up to Roan

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 24th, 1913


Solicitor Disappointed When Court Fails to Draw Jury Panels at Time Planned.

With the belief growing that a serious effort is being made to delay the trial of Leo Frank, set for next Monday, Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey Thursday renewed his protest against further postponement in a vigorous statement, declaring the prosecution is ready with a complete case against the National Pencil Company factory head, accused of killing Mary Phagan.

The trial date rests entirely with Judge Roan, who is in Covington. The drawing of the jury venire awaited word from him, expected some time during the afternoon. At his home it was said the Judge would not return until to-morrow.

Reuben R. Arnold, of counsel for Frank, was said to have consulted with Judge Roan in Covington and presented arguments for delay, but the truth of this report could not be established.

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Give Right of Way to Case of Frank

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 23rd, 1913

Attorneys for Relatives in the Crawford Will Hearing Are Willing to Yield Their Claim of Priority.

The conflict between the dates of hearing the litigation over the $250,000 estate of the late Joshua B. Crawford, and the trial of Leo M. Frank, charged with the Mary Phagan murder, may cause a postponement of the Frank trial, as Attorneys Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser are connected with both cases.

The Crawford hearing will be renewed today and by right of priority takes precedence over the other trial. It is expected, however, than an arrangement will be made whereby Attorneys Burton Smith and P. H. Brewster, representing Mrs. Mary Belle Crawford, the defendant, will continue the case and Attorneys Arnold and Rosser, also on the side of the defendant, will devote their time to the defense of Frank.

Crawford Attorneys Willing.

Attorneys J. S. James and Albert Kemper, representing the plaintiffs in the Crawford case, stated that under no circumstances did they wish to put off the Frank trial and that as far as their side was concerned the Crawford hearing might be postponed until the criminal case was disposed of.

Judge L. S. Roan, who is to preside over the trial of Frank, has stated that he would call the case Monday, but Attorney Arnold had declared that he wants the question of whether or not it is to be heard settled before the jurymen are summoned and a hearing in regard to that is expected this week.

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Fight Expected Over Effort to Defer Frank Case

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

Atlanta Journal
July 23, 1913

No Witnesses for Defense Have Been Called for Monday, and Indications Are They Will Not Be


Attorney R. R. Arnold May Go to Covington to Request Judge L. S. Roan to Postpone Case

While the position of the defense of Leo M. Frank has not been announced, Attorney Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold have indicated clearly that they desire to postpone the trial of case from next Monday, when it is set. Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, on the other hand, has announced the state’s position. He will fight any and every move to postpone the case.

The solicitor general objected, when the case was postponed from June 30, the date he first fixed, and fought to have a date earlier than July 28 when he then saw that postponement was inevitable. Now he is again preparing to fight against further delay.

Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor was instructed by Judge L. S. Roan, to bring the jury box to Judge John T. Pendleton with the request that he draw the venire for the trial on Thursday morning before the trial judge left to hold court this week in Covington.

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Protest of Solicitor Dorsey Wins

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, July 21, 1913

Presents Evidence Showing Indictment of Negro Would Hinder Frank Prosecution.

Here are the important developments of Monday in the Phagan case:

The decision of the Grand Jury of Fulton County not to bring at this time an indictment against James Conley.

The information that there is a strong probability of another postponement of the trial of Leo M. Frank.

The Grand Jury’s refusal to reopen its investigation of the Phagan murder mystery was a decided victory for the Solicitor after that body had overridden his request that no session be called to take up the matter in any of its aspects.

A report that Judge L.S. Roan, who will preside at the Frank trial, had signified his desire that the case be put off until fall, gave rise to the expectation that another postponement will take place, and that the date probably will be set for some week in September.

Defense Said To Be Willing.

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Frank’s Lawyers Score Dorsey for His Stand

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 20, 1913

Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold Declare He Is Going Out of His Way to Dictate to the Grand Jury.


Grand Jury Will Meet at 10 O’Clock Monday Morning to Take Up Conley Case. Call Is Sent Out.

In reply to Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey’s statements in regard to the proposed indictment by the grand jury of James Conley, the negro who has confessed complicity in the murder of Mary Phagan, Attorneys Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser issued a statement Saturday afternoon in which they openly attacked the stand taken by the solicitor in protesting against the indictment of the negro.

That the solicitor is exceeding his legal functions as a state officer is one point that the lawyers defending Leo M. Frank make in their statement, and they also severely criticise the solicitor for his detective work in the Phagan murder.

The card also contains a reference to the statement made in The Constitution Saturday morning by Attorney William M. Smith, representing the negro Conley. The card of the Frank defense takes Attorney Smith to task for rushing to the aid of the solicitor.

Solicitor General Dorsey also issued a statement in which he declared that he no more believed that the grand jury, when it meets Monday, would indict James Conley than he believes that Judge J.T. Pendleton will accede to the request of Frank attorneys to draw the venire for the trial jury from the box containing names of grand jury veniremen.

Roan Out of City.

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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.

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Detectives Working to Discredit Mincey

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Friday, July 18, 1913


Detective Bent on Questioning Negro Is Barred From Cell by Chief Lanford.

With Pinkerton detectives taking the trail in search of W.H. Mincey, whose startling accusations against Jim Conley stirred the police department and won the negro another “sweating” from Solicitor Dorsey, the Mincey affidavit Friday became the storm center about which the prosecution and defense in the Frank case waged their battle.

Despite the degree of indifference with which the detectives and prosecuting officials affected to look upon the remarkable statements of Mincey, it became known Friday that every effort was being bent toward locating him and turning the light on his past history.

Pinkertons Have Clew.

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Many Rumors Afloat Regarding Grand Jury

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Friday, July 18, 1913

Among These Is One That Effort Will Be Made to Indict Conley.

That the grand jury would meet possibly today or tomorrow and take steps toward indicting James Conley, the negro sweeper of the National Pencil factory, was a persistent rumor in circulation Thursday. From Foreman W.D. Beattie came the statement that he had not called for a meeting of the grand jury and that as far as he knew there would be no such action taken. Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey also declared that he had issued no call for the grand jury and knew nothing of any such action.

“I have not issued a call for a meeting,” explained Mr. Beattie, “and as far as I am concerned the grand jury will not take steps to indict Conley. Of course, the members of the grand jury have the right to come together and to take any steps they may desire, and I am speaking only for myself in saying that no steps will be taken to start an investigation of Conley’s alleged connection.”

“There is nothing new in the Mary Phagan murder case, as far as I know,” said the solicitor, “and I have issued no call for the grand jury. The state is continuing its work and will be ready on July 28 for the trial of Leo M. Frank.”

Attorneys Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser held a consultation Thursday afternoon in Mr. Arnold’s office at which they discussed the phases of their case, according to Mr. Arnold. At the courthouse it was said that Judge L.S. Roan, who is due to preside over the Frank trial, was in consultation with lawyers on both sides and that there was a possibility of the case being postponed.

Both Solicitor Dowrsey [sic] and Attorney Arnold denied this, and Attorney Arnold stated that the only consultation was that between him and Mr. Rosser.

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The Atlanta Constitution, July 18th 1913, “Many Rumors Afloat Regarding Grand Jury,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Lee’s Lawyer Expects Delay in Frank Case

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

The Atlanta Journal

Friday, July 4, 1913

State Certain to Fight Chappell’s Effort to Secure Release of Watchman

Bernard L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, who found the body of Mary Phagan in the National Pencil factory basement, declares that Saturday he will bring habeas corpus proceedings to secure the release of his client.

According to the attorney, the negro is being held on the recommendation of the coroner’s jury, which concluded its inquest before James Conley figured in the case. The grand jury has failed to act on Lee’s case, and Attorney Chappell says that he is going to make efforts to secure the negro’s release.

When the habeas corpus proceedings are commenced the state is certain to make a fight to prevent the negro’s release from the Tower on the ground that he is a material witness.

Attorney Chappell states that he has decided to bring the habeas corpus proceedings because he does not believe that the case of Leo M. Frank will actually come to trial on July 28, when it has been set by Judge L. S. Roan, of the superior court.

There are many ways in which such a case may be postponed indefinitely, Lee’s attorney says, and he is not going to allow his client to stay in jail for an indefinite period if he can help it.

As a result, he says he is fully determined to take the legal steps Saturday to secure the negro’s release.

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The Atlanta Journal, July 4th 1913, “Lee’s Lawyer Expects Delay in Frank Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Stover Girl Will Star in Frank Trial

Judge L.S. Roan, who will preside at trial of alleged slayer of Mary Phagan.

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 26, 1913

State, However, Must Prove She Entered Factory Before Mary Phagan.

With the selection of the court room made Thursday, all is virtually in readiness for the trial of Leo M. Frank, accused of strangling Mary Phagan. The venire of jurymen has been selected and July 28 is fixed as the date, and both sides have announced they are ready to go into court.

A definite decision was reached by Judge L. S. Roan to hold the trial on the first floor of the old City Hall building. The decision was reached after a conference with Solicitor General Dorsey, and it was represented as impracticable to hold the trial in the small and not well-ventilated court room in the Thrower building.

The State is maintaining its determined attitude toward the subpenas duces tecum issued by the defense. Frank A. Hooper, assisting in the prosecution, has branded them as a palpable trick to discredit the testimony of the State’s witnesses.

Girl Star Witness.

The witnesses will be present with the affidavits called for, but a hot fight will be put up by Solicitor Dorsey and Attorney Hooper to prevent their use by the defense.

Monteen Stover, a timid little 14-year-old girl, will be a star witness in the trial [of Leo M. Frank July 28 on the charge of strangling Mary Phagan in the National Pencil Factory],* according to all indications Thursday.

[The frequency with which she has been called upon to repeat her story of going to the factory on the day of the crime and finding Frank absent from his office is taken as an almost certain indication that the prosecution regards her statements of the utmost importance.]

The State, if it is able to establish that Monteen Stover entered the factory on the day of the crime just after Mary Phagan went inside, will have scored a most significant victory. The evidence will still be circumstantial, it is true, but it will be of greater weight even than the weird stories of the negro sweeper, Jim Conley, who has sworn that he aided Frank in disposing of the body.

Adds to Mystery.

Her story; however, until it is substantiated or disproved in court, only adds to the mystery of a crime which already abounds in baffling and mysterious phases. Her appearance on the witness stand may mean everything or nothing—because there is the startling fact that every indication points to Monteen Stover having entered the factory BEFORE Mary Phagan. Continue Reading →

Call of Cool Sea Breezes and Promise of Judge to His Wife, Secrets of Frank Trial Delay

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

The Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 26, 1913

There Are Many Little Reasons, of Course, but the Biggest of These Is the Simplest—Judge Roan Just Had to Keep Promise to His Charming Wife—And Nobody’s Kicking, Either

The trial of Leo M. Frank, which is expected to be the most brilliant legal battle in the history of the state, has been postponed for a month.

There are many little reasons why the trial could not come up on June 30.

And, then, there is one great big reason.

The biggest reason, when analyzed, is also the simplest, as are most big things.

The big reason is the simple fact that Mrs. Judge L. S. Roan wants to go to the seashore early in July.

Of course Mrs. Roan might go to the seashore by herself with any of her many friends, but she wants her husband to make the trip with her, and long before the Phagan case developed Mrs. Roan had secured Judge Roan’s promise to take the trip with her.

When the judge called Solicitor Hugh Dorsey, Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold before him Tuesday afternoon and told them that it would be best to agree upon a definite date for the trial of Mr. Frank, they looked a little puzzled for the moment.

Solicitor Dorsey appeared not to want a postponement, and flatly said so. In fact, he argued every time he got a chance, trying to get an early date, and finally asked the court if he wouldn’t set the case for the week of July 7.


Then the court explained, and after he had explained a quick smile of complete understanding passed over the court room. Mr. Rosser smiled first, then Mr. Arnold, and finally Solicitor Dorsey.

Said the court with the usual dignity:

“Well, gentlemen, another reason is that some months ago I promised my wife that I would take her to the seashore on the week of July 4 and spend some days there with her.

“Of course, if there is any good reason why this trial should be taken up early in the month, if it will be impossible for you to reach it later, I can send Mrs. Roan with friends and remain here.”

The judge’s statement was made in the nature of a question, but it brought forth no answer. Continue Reading →

To Hold Frank Trial in the Old City Hall

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

The Atlanta Journal

Thursday, June 26, 1913

Case Will Be Heard in Courtroom Now Used by Judge Pendleton

The trial of Leo M. Frank on July 28 will be held on the first floor in the old city hall building, at the corner of South Pryor and East Hunter streets. Solicitor Dorsey, Judge L. S. Roan and court attaches formally decided upon this room as the proper place to conduct the trial.

The court room designated is at present occupied by Judge John T. Pendleton, of the motion division of superior court. Judge Pendleton will adjurn [sic] his court for the summer on July 12, and the place will be unoccupied when the Frank trial is called.

This court room is the one which was occupied by Superior Court Judge Thomas when he was here conducting criminal court for several weeks last fall.

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The Atlanta Journal, June 26th 1913, “To Hold Frank Trial in the Old City Hall,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Trial of Leo Frank Postponed by Judge

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Wednesday, June 25, 1913

Date of Trial Changed From June 30 Until July 28 at Plea of Attorneys for Defense.

The first appearance in open court of the indictment against Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan came yesterday afternoon when Judge L. S. Roan, presiding over the criminal division of superior court, summoned attorneys for both sides, and after a hearing changed the date of trial from June 30, as set by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, to July 28.

This and the legal move by the defense in serving upon Solicitor Dorsey, Police Chief James L. Beavers, Detective Chief Newport Lanford and other detectives and officials for the state, with formal subpoenas duces tecum, commanding them to bring to court all affidavits they may have which bear upon the state’s case against Frank, were the only changes in the present situation.

Judge Roan also decided that the trial of Frank would be held not in the regular room in which he holds his division of court, but in one of the rooms in which the civil division of the superior court sits.

Where Trial Will be Held.

This was done, the judge explained, because the ceiling is very low in the courtroom in the Thrower building, where his court regularly sits, and the room is ventilated by windows only on one side. The trial will be held, according to present plans, in one of the courtrooms in the old city hall, corner South Pryor and East Hunter streets, where the ceilings are higher and windows can be thrown open on both sides of the room to allow ventilation. Continue Reading →