Venire of 72 for Frank Jury Is Drawn

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 23, 1913

Negro Conley Sticks to Affidavit Story When Again Cross-Examined by Dorsey.

The first official action of the court in preparing for the trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan was taken Monday afternoon when Judge L. S. Roan impaneled 72 men, from whom a jury to hear the case will be sought.

June 30 was agreed to by Judge Roan for the opening of the case. If a postponement is desired it will now have to be asked for in open court.

As yet Judge Roan said he had received no intimation from the defense that a delay was wanted. Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey said Monday the prosecution was ready for trial.

Trial in Thrower Building.

An extra staff of deputies has been sworn in and subpenas to jurymen impaneled and witnesses are now being served.

No plans for a larger room in which to hear the case have matured, and it is likely that the courtroom of the Superior Court in the Thrower Building will be used at last, despite its size and lack of comfort.

Jim Conley, the negro sweeper, was brought before Solicitor Dorsey Monday morning for another cross-examination. The questions were solely along the lines of the negro’s affidavit charging Frank with the crime. As the Solicitor later said, he had only refreshed Conley’s mind on the points he had made in his statement. The negro told the same story he told before without deviation. Continue Reading →

State Ready for Frank Trial on June 30

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 23, 1913

Defense Has Announced Its Case Is Complete and Judge Roan Is Free.

Prosecuting Attorney Hugh M. Dorsey announced for the State Monday morning that the trial of Leo M. Frank would be placed on the calendar for the week of June 30.

The defense had announced that its case was completed and no continuance would be asked unless some unforeseen contingency arose.

The trial judge, L. S. Roan, will have the most to say about the date for the trial. He intimated he would be ready on this date and would personally make no move for a continuance. He said, however, that in the event of it being impossible to open the trial June 30, he would be at leisure between July 14 and 28, and it is not improbable the trial may be advanced to that date.

Dorsey Back From East.

Solicitor Dorsey returned to Atlanta Sunday afternoon from a week’s vacation in New York. He called a conference with his assistants, E. A. Stephens and F. A. Hooper, at his home Sunday evening. Following it he announced that he would be ready for trial on June 30 and that unless the defense or the trial judge moved to have the trial postponed he would commence at once summoning witnesses and getting ready. Continue Reading →

Frank Not Guilty of Phagan Murder Declares Arnold

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, June 22, 1913

Prominent Atlanta Lawyer Engaged to Aid in Defense of Pencil Factory Superintendent.

NO WHITE MAN KILLED GIRL, ASSERTS LAWYER

Formby and Conley Statements Should Not Be Given Credence So Far as They Tend to Incriminate Frank, He Says.

Reuben R. Arnold, perhaps the best-known attorney in Georgia, has been engaged to aid the defense of Leo M. Frank, the suspected pencil factory superintendent, in the Mary Phagan mystery. This announcement was made from his office yesterday afternoon.

In a statement that was furnished [to] each of the newspapers, Mr. Arnold attacks the detectives for their continued efforts to lay the Phagan murder at his client’s door. He hoots at the credence which he says has been placed in Conley’s story and in the sensational affidavit sworn by Mima [sic] Formby.

Asserting his anticipation of clarifying the situation in due time, Mr. Arnold says that in the evidence the prosecution holds against Frank there is no room whatever in which to believe him guilty, and that no white man committed the crime.

Injustice, Says Arnold.

He deplores alleged injustice done the suspected superintendent by reports circulated to the effect that Frank’s friends had persuaded the Formby woman to leave town and by many other false rumors deliberately set before the public, he declares.

His statement follows:

“It is true that I have accepted employment to assist in the defense of Mr. Leo M. Frank, but I wish to state that before I agreed to take the case, I made it a condition that I should have time to study critically all the evidence delivered at the coroner’s inquest and all the affidavits that have reached the public through the newspapers, so I could form an opinion for myself as to Frank’s innocence or guilt. I would not defend any man if guilty of such a murder as the one in this case.

“After studying the evidence as critically as I can, I am satisfied that I hazard not a thing in saying that there is no room to believe Mr. Frank guilty of this horrible murder. I do not believe that any white man committed the crime. Continue Reading →

Date of Frank Trial Still In Much Doubt

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

The Atlanta Journal

Saturday, June 21, 1913

Belief Grows That Case Will Not Come Up Before July 14 or 28

Interest in the Phagan case still centers on the time of the trial of Leo M. Frank. Indications still are that the case will not be tried the week of June 30.

Solicitor Dorsey has never finally committed himself on the matter but Colonel Frank A. Hooper, who is associated [with] him, still expects the case to be set for that date.

Mr. Hooper expects the trial to last a week. The jail will not have been cleared by June 30, according to court attaches, and it is the general policy of the court to clear the jail of as many cases as possible before entering into a lengthy trial. In addition the Fourth of July, a holiday, comes in the week of June 30 and this might mean that the jury would be locked up during a day that the court was not in session. Still further there is the possibility that the defense will ask for a postponement.

Judge L. S. Roan will not have to hold court in the Stone Mountain circuit on either the week of July 14, or the week of July 28, and as a result it is now considered extremely probable that Frank will face a jury on one of those dates.

Apparently the Phagan case is at a standstill. Saturday both Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, who will be associated with the defense in all probability, were out of the city, on business said not to be connected with the case.

Mr. Hooper, who is in charge of the state’s case during the absence in New York of Solicitor Dorsey, states that there have been no developments of importance, and that the state is ready for the trial, whenever Mr. Dorsey returns and sets it on the court calendar.

Mr. Hooper was not interested in the return of Mrs. Mima [sic] Formby, maker of a sensational affidavit, to the city. The state made no effort to find her when she left the city, and apparently there is no chance of her being used as a witness unless the defense puts Frank’s character in issue.

During the absence of Solicitor Dorsey, Detectives Starnes and Campbell have been working under his instructions, smoothing over rough places in the state’s case, but nothing of importance has been developed.

* * *

The Atlanta Journal, June 21st 1913, “Date of Frank Trial Still In Much Doubt,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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.

FRANK A. HOOPER,
Attorney.

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. Continue Reading →

Frank Trial Will Not Be Long One

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Friday, June 20, 1913

Few Witnesses of the Scores Examined Will Be Called When Case Is Heard.

That the trial of Leo M. Frank will take a much shorter time that is generally thought was indicated in a statement by Judge L. S. Roan. The judge said the greatest difficulty and almost as great a length of time would be consumed in drawing a jury as in the hearing of the case. He said the actual taking of evidence might not consume more than a day.

Judge Roan intimated that he expected neither side to introduce the scores of witnesses who had been examined and made affidavits, but that from these witnesses the State and the defense would select the most material evidence, or salient points, and then introduce the most reliable witness who could cover the ground.

For instance, eight or ten different persons might be able to testify on some different minor points, while there would be one witness who could testify to the same thing the different witnesses could. This witness, he thought, would be the one to go on the stand, and the others would not be summoned.

Affidavits Are Plentiful.

As a matter of fact, it is known that only a comparatively small number of the witnesses examined by the Solicitor will be introduced at the trial. In the course of his investigation he secured an affidavit from almost every employee of the pencil factory. While he questioned them closely and had each sign an affidavit, he found little that threw any new light on the case. He examined them, he said, to be sure that he would overlook nothing that might have been missed at the Coroner’s inquest or by the police. Continue Reading →

Mrs. Formby Here for Phagan Trial

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Thursday, June 19, 1913

Woman Declares She Will Appear in Court and Will Corroborate Sensational Affidavit to Police.

Mima [sic] Formby, the rooming housekeeper of 400 Piedmont avenue, who made the affidavit declaring that Leo Frank had telephoned her on the night of Mary Phagan’s murder in an endeavor to rent a room to which he could bring a girl, has returned to Atlanta after a disappearance of several weeks.

To a reporter for The Constitution she stated yesterday afternoon that she intended remaining in the city until time of the Phagan trial and that she would appear before the court and deliver testimony corroborating the sensational affidavit to which she has attested.

Why She Left City.

Mrs. Formby’s recent disappearance created considerable mystery. The police of several different cities were notified to be on the lookout for her, and while the police and detective bureau of Atlanta scoured the city, widespread efforts were made to locate her by the solicitor general’s office.

She declares that she was persuaded by no one to leave town, and that her departure was of her own accord. She had gone away, she said, to avoid notoriety which was incurred by her affidavit, and to remain out of the city until the sensation subsided. She visited Chattanooga, Bristol and Sulphur Springs, Tenn., while on the trip, she said.

Chief Lanford said Wednesday afternoon that he expected the woman’s return and had felt no fears of her absence at time of trial.

Says Frank Wanted Room.

Mrs. Formby’s affidavit was one of the most sensational obtained by the detectives, excepting, of course, the James Conley statement. She swore that on the night of April 26 Leo Frank had telephoned her frequently between the hours of 6:30 and 10 o’clock in an effort to get a room to which he could bring a girl.

She testified that he even declared it was a matter of life and death, and that he even threatened her life when she refused to rent him an apartment. He telephoned her six times, she stated, and finally she was rid of him only after she had told him she was leaving her home on an automobile ride.

Mrs. Formby has returned to her home at the Piedmont avenue address. Continue Reading →

Rush Plans for Trial of Leo Frank

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 18, 1913

Extensive Preparations Made to Accommodate Great Crowd Expected at Hearing.

When twelve books of evidence of more than 100 pages each were turned over to the Solicitor’s office Wednesday morning by his stenographers, Assistant Solicitor General E. A. Stephens announced the State could now go to trial on 48 hours’ notice. No evidence would be introduced, he said, except by witnesses who had already been questioned by the Solicitor.

To bring out the salient points in the evidence of each witness, the Solicitor plans to question them from the books. They will be carried over the same ground they were when they made the statements, and they will be asked no questions further than those they have already answered.

By his plan the Solicitor hopes to have the mind of each witness fresh and after he finishes the examination, according to his well arranged books of questions and answers, he thinks the defense will have difficulty in injuring the evidence on cross-examination.

Rush Plans.

Plans are being rushed to stage the trial. On account of the poor ventilation of the court room and the absence of ante-rooms to accommodate the scores of witnesses who will in all probability be sequestered, the court in the Thrower Building had been adjudged inadequate by Judge L. S. Roan and Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey.

Before leaving for New York he instructed his deputy to discuss with Judge Roan some new place to hold the trial where the large crowd could be accommodated and the heat would not be so excessive. The county board will be called upon to furnish a place and Mr. Dorsey will approve the selection when he returns from New York Saturday.

All plans for the trial will be completed before Saturday and the greater number of witnesses summoned. The week before June 30 the Superior Court officers will be busy with a mass of unimportant criminal cases. They will be unable to spare any time to prepare for the Frank trial and the necessary arrangements will have to be made this week.

Judge Thomas May Preside.

Judge W. C. Thomas, of the Superior Court, Valdosta, Lowndes County, was in a lengthy conference Wednesday with Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stephens, giving rise to the rumor that he might be asked to preside at the Frank trial, which will be called June 30.

Judge Thomas has presided at several other trials in Fulton County in which there was considerable local feeling, one of the most notable being the jail bond case. Judge L. S. Roan was to have presided at the Frank trial, but it is supposed that the intense local interest in the murder mystery will make him willing to turn the case over to an outside judge if the Solicitor’s office suggests the move.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, June 18th 1913, “Rush Plans for Trial of Leo Frank,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Judge Roan to Decide Conley’s Jail Fate

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

Atlanta Georgian

Friday, June 13th, 1913

Chief of Detectives Lanford Receives No Order to Take the Negro Sweeper to Court.

A more explicit accusation of murder against Jim Conley, negro sweeper at the National Pencil Factory, than has yet been made since his name has been connected with the Phagan mystery, was expected Friday morning when Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Leo Frank, was to appear before Judge L. S. Roan to combat Solicitor Dorsey’s move to keep Conley at the police station and away from the tower.

The probability that Conley, accuser, and Frank, accused, would be brought face to face at the hearing was lessened when it was learned that Chief of Detectives Lanford had received no order to take the negro into court and had made the statement that he would not bring the negro out of the station without an order to that effect.

The hearing Friday morning was understood to be largely the outcome of a persistent demand on the part of Frank’s attorneys that Conley, a self-confessed accessory after the fact of Mary Phagan’s murder, and possibly the actual principal, should be removed from the police station and held in the tower.

His Rearrest is Probable.

Judge Roan, following this agitation, decided that he had possessed no authority to remand the negro to the police station, rather than to the Tower. To checkmate the transfer back to the Tower Solicitor Dorsey petitioned that Conley be freed, representing that the need for holding him as material witness no longer existed. Judge Roan set Friday morning for the hearing to show cause why the Solicitor’s petition should not be granted.

The effect of the petition’s success merely will be that Conley will be technically liberated, but will be rearrested and held “on suspicion,” or as a material witness at the police station by the police officers. In the event of the failure of the petition Conley will be returned to the Tower unless the fight is carried still further. Continue Reading →

Conley Released, Then Rearrested

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, June 14, 1913

After a short hearing in his chambers yesterday Judge L. S. Roan, of the superior court, revoked his former order holding James Conley, the negro sweeper, as a material witness in the Phagan case, and ordered his release from the custody of the state. The negro was immediately rearrested and held by city detectives on a charge of suspicion.

By this the detective department and Solicitor Hugh Dorsey won their first point, as had the negro been ordered held by the state, he would have been transferred to the Tower and placed in the custody of the sheriff, where the detectives could not have reached them at their own free will.

Rosser Makes Protest.

Solicitor Dorsey secured the order for the release of the man who has sworn that Leo M. Frank, now under indictment for the murder of little Mary Phagan, is the real murderer, and Attorney Luther Z. Rosser, representing the indicted man, placed before the court a formal protest to the freeing of the negro.

William M. Smith, counsel for Conley, also filed a bill before the court on behalf of the negro, in which Conley swore to intimidation during the one night he spent at the jail, and declared that he had been approached by a man whom he believed to be in the employ of Frank, and that this man had given him sandwiches, which he feared to eat, and had offered him whisky.

Attorney Rosser stated that he did not wish to make the point that Conley was a material witness, but in his bill which he termed a “protest,” declared that all evidence pointed to Conley as the murderer, and took Chief of Detectives Newport Lanford severely to task for their treatment of the negro.

Attorney Rosser’s Plea.

“To enact the farce in the court’s presence of releasing the negro and immediately returning him to his wet nurses at police station would resemble child’s play,” said Attorney Rosser.

“That the detectives should wish to keep Conley in their custody and entertain him at the city’s expense is not at all surprising,” the attorney declared in his bill. “They have already exacted from him extravagant, unthinkable and unbelievable confessions, three or four in number. To these they have given widest publicity, and to the credibility of the last have staked their reputations and hope of place.”

Attorney Rosser also made the point in his answer that Chief Lanford was not a proper person in which to place the negro’s custody, and declared that he should rightly be turned over to the sheriff of Fulton county, as an unbiased officer of the law, who had nothing at stake in the matter. Continue Reading →

Negro Freed But Jailed Again On Suspicion

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Friday, June 13, 1913

Rosser Declares ‘Gibbering Statements’ Point Out Sweeper as Guilty of Slaying.

James Conley, self-confessed accessory after the fact in the murder of Mary Phagan, Friday was discharged by Judge L. S. Roan entirely from the custody of the State on the petition of Solicitor Dorsey.

Technically free, Conley was at once rearrested and held by the police on suspicion in the murder mystery. The action of Judge Roan constituted a victory for Solicitor Dorsey, who was fighting to prevent the authorities returning Conley to the Tower, from which he had been taken on the representation of his attorney, William M. Smith, that the negro was threatened and intimidated in the Tower.

Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Leo Frank, made a bitter protest against the liberation of the negro, which, in the opinion of Judge Roan, was the only legal alternative of returning him to the county jail. He made a still stronger protest in a formal written statement placed on file as a record in the case.

Accuses Conley as Slayer.

In this he charged that the negro’s series of “gibbering and incoherent statements,” together with the attendant circumstances of the crime and Conley’s subsequent actions, pointed to him as guilty of the murder beyond any reasonable doubt.

Less than ten minutes was occupied in the disposal of the case. Judge Roan did not read either the statement of Attorney Rosser or that of Attorney Smith, who submitted the reasons he wished his client kept at the police station. The dispatch with which the petition was acceded to was a complete surprise. A protracted and hard fought legal battle had been expected.

Judge Roan said that he was without authority to hold the negro in the custody of the State so long as he had no formal application from either side. The Solicitor, he said, was asking for the release of the prisoner, and Attorney Rosser had characterized his statement only as a “suggestion.” Continue Reading →

Face Conley and Frank, Lanford Urges

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 12, 1913

Detective Chief Ready to Have Accuser Confront Prisoner Before Grand Jury.

New sensations are expected in the Phagan mystery Friday morning when the petition of Solicitor Dorsey for the revocation of the order holding James Conley as a material witness is heard before Judge L. S. Roan.

Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Leo Frank, will be afforded his first opportunity formally to present his reasons for the holding of James Conley, not only as a material witness in the baffling murder mystery, but as an actual suspect.

While it is not anticipated that the attorney will disclose his hand too freely, it is to be supposed that he will present every argument he believes necessary to keep the negro in the custody of the State.

Lanford Agrees to Test.

Chief of Detectives Lanford Thursday replied to the demand of Luther Z. Rosser that Jim Conley be taken before the Grand Jury by making the startling proposition that he would take the negro to be questioned by this body the instant that Rosser assented to having Frank before the Grand Jury at the same time.

That this dramatic situation is not beyond the pale of possibilities within the next few days is indicated by the attitude of Frank’s friends, who have been suggesting just such an arrangement.

Chief Lanford Is Willing.

“I am perfectly willing that Conley should be taken before the Grand Jury,” said Chief Lanford. “I think it is only fair, however, that Rosser permit his client to go there at the same time, where he may be confronted by the negro and where the negro may tell his story right before Frank.

“Just the instant that Rosser consents to an arrangement of this sort, I will be prepared to have Conley on his way to the Grand Jury room. There will be no delay. It is irregular, of course, but I am perfectly willing to waive that phase of the matter. The fact that Frank already is indicted makes it unnecessary for Conley to be called before the Grand Jury to give testimony against him.”

Chief Lanford, referring to the effort to remove Conley from the station house to the jail, said that he would hold the negro at police headquarters until there was a court order to the contrary. He said that if Solicitor Dorsey’s petition was successful and Conley was freed from the present court order, that he would still be held at the station as a material witness. Continue Reading →

Court’s Order May Result in Meeting of Negro and Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, June 12th, 1913

Jim Conley, Negro Sweeper, Accusing Witness in Phagan Case, Sure to Appear Before Judge Roan Friday A. M.

STATE MAY DEMAND THAT FRANK APPEAR THERE TOO

Through Judge’s Order, Defense Gets Chance to Quiz Negro—State Then May Force Long-Sought Meeting

The probability that Leo M. Frank, accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, and Jim Conley, negro witness against him, may face each other Friday, developed Thursday morning from the acute situation which arose Wednesday when Judge L. S. Roan issued a rule niel calling on any one to show cause why the negro Conley should not be released from the custody of the state. Solicitor Dorsey seeks the negro’s release so as to avert the judge’s expressed intention of remanding Conley to the county jail, but the solicitor does not seek the negro’s liberty, nor does Conley want to get out of the hands of the police, nor does Conley’s attorney, W. M. Smith want him liberated.

The rather puzzling matter assumed this shape Thursday morning.

NEGRO SURE TO BE THERE.

Conley, the negro, who says he does not want to go free, but who declares he is afraid to go back to the tower, is certain to be called into the hearing before Judge Roan at 10 o’clock Friday on the rule nisi.

The solicitor wants him there, it is expected, to prove alleged intimidation and threats against Conley on a former occasion when for one night immediately following his confession the negro was confined in the Fulton county tower.

And the attorneys defending Frank want him there, it is expected with equal confidence, to learn from him all that he knows or claims to know about the case, which is precisely the thing that the solicitor’s fight is aimed entirely to avoid. The Frank defense has published statements alleging that the negro himself is the principal in the murder and that he alone is guilty.

Therefore, with Conley in chambers before the judge, Solicitor Dorsey can, it is said, have Leo M. Frank brought there, because Frank is the first among those addressed by Judge Roan in the rule nisi and the solicitor can find legal precedent for demanding that Frank speak his own accusations against the negro on that occasion.

Which would bring about the situation that the state and its officers constantly have been seeking to create when Conley first admitted that he wrote the notes found beside Mary Phagan’s dead body, i. e., a face to face meeting between the negro and the man whom he accuses of the murder. Continue Reading →

Police Hold Conley By Court’s Order

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

Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, June 11th, 1913

Judge Roan Gives Suspect Chance to Show Why He Should Not Be Released.

The Phagan case took a queer turn Wednesday afternoon when Judge Roan, apparently stirred by Luther Z. Rosser’s ar[r]aignment of the way Jim Conley has been “petted” by the police, issued notice to suspects in the mystery that they will be given opportunity Friday to show cause why the negro should not be released from custody as a suspect.

However, the move is strictly legal in character, Conley, through his attorney, W. M. Smith, having signed a written statement to stay in the custody of the police as a principal witness if previous orders are vacated and he is legally freed as a suspect.

Agrees to Remain.

Judge Roan informed Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey that he wanted to withdraw his previous order committing Conley to the police station so that the negro’s status could be definitely fixed and so that he could perhaps be sent back to the county jail. Both Conley and his attorney announced that the prisoner wanted to stay at police headquarters.

Smith also came forward with the agreement that Conley would remain in custody of the chief of police.

Sensations Ahead.

Judge Roan then issued what is known as a rule nial, informing Frank, Gordon Bailey, an elevator boy, and Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, that they could be given a chance Friday to show why Conley should not be released.

Sensational developments may follow Friday if the Frank defense is allowed to present facts against Conley for Attorney Rosser is firmly convinced that the negro is the guilty man and has so announced.

Whether the negro shall be indicted as an accessory after or to the fact, or be continued to be held as a witness, will then be determined.

Napier Analyzes The Phagan Case.

The Georgian publishes the following letter written by George M. Napier, the well-known lawyer, on the Phagan case, as it gives for the first time a legal analysis of the case for and against Frank: Continue Reading →

Lanford Tells Why Conley Was Placed in Police Station

lanford-tells-why

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

Atlanta Journal

Sunday, June 1st, 1913

Chief of Detectives Gives Out Statement Relative to Transfer of Prisoner From the Tower to Headquarters

FURTHER QUESTIONING IS PLANNED BY DETECTIVES

No Arrangement Yet Made for Negro to Confront Frank—Report of Finding Girl’s Purse Proves Without Foundation

The prosecuting officials connected with the Phagan case all denied Saturday evening that the state’s theory of the murder has been changed by anything that the negro sweeper Conley has said, but the fact that the negro was transferred t police headquarters, where he can be freely examined by the detectives, seems to show that the officials are not fully satisfied with Conley’s story of the crime as it now stands.

Conley was permitted to leave the jail on an order signed by Judge L. S. Roan, of the superior court. Conley was perfectly willing to accompany the officers anywhere they desired to take him.

From the jail he was carried by Deputy Newt Garner to the solicitor’s office, and it is said that only after the solicitor had talked with the negro two hours and gone over all of the “rough places in the story” was the decision to take him to police headquarters, rather than the jail reached.

REASON FOR TRANSFER.

Two reasons are assigned by Detective Chief N. A. Lanford for the removal of Conley from the Fultin [sic] county jail back to the state cell in police headquarters, where he was imprisoned for more than three weeks.

The first, according to the chief, is that Conley requested that he be transferred back, stating in explanation or his request that he was greatly annoyed Friday night by persons who came to visit in the tower. Continue Reading →

Conley, Taken to Factory, Shows Where Girl Was Found—How They Put Body in Basement

conley

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 30th, 1913

Gruesome Part Played By Him Illustrated

In Presence of Detectives, Factory Officials and Newspaper Men, the Negro Goes Over Every Point of His Statement From the Time Frank is Alleged to Have Directed Him to the Metal Room Until Girl’s Body Was Left in the Basement

“MR. FRANK AND HIS FRIENDS HAVE FORSAKEN ME AND I DECIDED TO TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH,” HE DECLARES

He Says His Statement Is Voluntary, That He Has Not Been Browbeaten Nor Mistreated by the Detectives—Full Story of His Confession to Being an Accessory After the Fact and His Visit to the Pencil Factory—Frank Makes No Comment

Following his full confession of his part in the mysterious murder of Mary Phagan, the pretty fourteen-year-old factory girl, James Conley, the negro sweeper, was Friday afternoon taken to the National Pencil factory on South Forsyth street and there in the presence of a half dozen detectives, several newspaper men and the factory officials illustrated in detail his own and Superintendent Leo M. Frank’s movements after he was called upstairs to aid in removing the dead girl’s body.

Conley led the officers back to the extreme rear of the metal room on the second floor and into a little alleyway off to the left where he said he found the girl’s dead body after Frank let him in. He lay down on his stomach with his hands stretched by his side to show how the body was found. He said a cord was about the girl’s neck and was stretched on the floor at right angles to the body.

He said that after he saw the body he went back to where Frank was standing at the head of the stairs watching and went into a room on the left just beyond the stairs where he got a big piece of crocus-bagging; that he took this bagging back and tied the girl’s body up in it much after the fashion a washerwoman tied up her soiled clothes; that he then took the body on his right shoulder and started up toward the elevator in the front (Frank remaining at the head of the stairs and just outside the double doors  to the metal room all the while.)

Conley declared that when he had walked half way up the room the body slipped off his shoulder to the floor. (This was the place where the bloodspots were found and where it has hitherto been believed the girl was murdered.) Continue Reading →

Ready to Indict Conley as an Accomplice

ready-to-indictAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, May 29th, 1913

Dorsey Ready to Act if Negro Sticks to Latest Story Accusing Frank.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey announced that if Conley persisted in his story he would take steps to have him indicted as an accessory after the fact and bring him to trial on this charge.

Conley was Friday afternoon removed to the Tower, on an order signed by Judge Roan.

Conley’s startling tale came late Thursday afternoon after he had been under a merciless sweating for nearly three hours. Noting the signs of weakening, Detective Harry Scott and Chief Lanford shot question after question at him in rapid succession.

Conley hesitated and then told the men who surrounded him that he had seen Mary Phagan on the day of the crime, but that she was dead when he saw her. When it became evident that he most important disclosures of the long investigation were to be made, G. C. February, secretary to Chief Lanford, was called in and took the negro’s statement.

Sticks to Note Story.

Conley stuck to his story that Frank had him write the notes that were found by the girl’s body and the detectives believe that there can be no doubt of this now.

He said that after the notes were written Frank took his arm and led him to the body. Frank’s hand was shaking, the negro declared. Together, they raised the limp form from the floor, Conley told the detectives, and took it into the basement.

Offering no explanation of the tragedy which had occurred, Frank ordered Conley to leave the building, according to the statement. Conley explained his long silence by saying that he thought Frank had plenty of money and that he would be able to get both of them free within a short time.

Chief Lanford and Detective Scott both declared after the third degree that they were confident that the negro at last was telling the truth. If he has any further knowledge of the crime, they said they would get it out of Friday when they put him through another grilling. Continue Reading →

Conley Tells in Detail of Writing Notes on Saturday at Dictation of Mr. Frank

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

Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, May 28th, 1913

Negro Declares He Met Mr. Frank on the Street and Accompanied Him Back to the Factory, Where He Was Told to Wait and Watch—He Was Concealed in Wardrobe In Office When Voices Were Heard on Outside, It Is Claimed

NEGRO LOOKED UPON AS A TOOL NOT PRINCIPAL DECLARE DETECTIVES WHO HAVE QUESTIONED HIM

Chief Beavers Confer With Judge Roan In Reference to Taking Conley to Tower to Confront Frank but Is Told That It Is a Question for Sheriff to Decide—No Effort In This Direction Likely Until Mr. Rosser Returns to City

“Write ‘night-watchman,’” the city detectives are said to have commanded James Conley, negro sweeper at the pencil factory, in jail Wednesday.

The result is said to have been “night-wich.”

So also the note found beside the dead body of Mary Phagan spelled it.

The detectives regard this strongly corroborative of Conley’s admission that he himself wrote the notes found beside the dead girl. Conley declares that he wrote them, however, at the dictation of Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the pencil factory, under indictment for the murder. The detectives are disposed to place full credence in his story now, it is said, since he has declared that he did the writing on Saturday afternoon instead of on Friday afternoon as he first swore, and has gone into details.

A new and lengthy affidavit, going into detail in sequence throughout the day of the fatal Saturday, was sworn to by the negro in the detective headquarters Wednesday morning.

In it the negro recited as minutely as he could remember them, his actions and movements upon the day. Continue Reading →

100 Years Ago Today: The Trial of Leo Frank Begins

Leo-Frank-Atlanta-Georgian-courtroom-sketch-340x264

Originally published by the American Mercury on the 100th anniversary of the Leo Frank trial.

Take a journey through time with the American Mercury, and experience the trial of Leo Frank (pictured, in courtroom sketch) for the murder of Mary Phagan just as it happened as revealed in contemporary accounts. The Mercury will be covering this historic trial in capsule form from now until August 26, the 100th anniversary of the rendering of the verdict.

by Bradford L. Huie

THE JEWISH ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE (ADL) — in great contrast to the American Mercury and other independent media — has given hardly any publicity to the 100th anniversary of the murder of Mary Phagan and the arrest and trial of Leo Frank, despite the fact that these events eventually led to the foundation of the ADL. Probably the League is saving its PR blitz for 1915, not only because that is centenary of Leo Frank’s death by lynching (an event possibly of much greater interest to the League’s wealthy donors than the death of Mary Phagan, a mere Gentile factory girl), but also because encouraging the public to read about Frank’s trial might not be good for the ADL — it might well lead to doubts about the received narrative, which posits an obviously innocent Frank persecuted by anti-Semitic Southerners looking for a Jewish scapegoat.

For readers not familiar with the case, a good place to start is Scott Aaron’s summary of the crime, from his The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank, which states in part:

“ON SATURDAY morning at 11:30, April 26, 1913 Mary Phagan ate a poor girl’s lunch of bread and boiled cabbage and said goodbye to her mother for the last time. Dressed for parade-watching (for this was Confederate Memorial Day) in a lavender dress, ribbon-bedecked hat, and parasol, she left her home in hardscrabble working-class Bellwood at 11:45, and caught the streetcar for downtown Atlanta.

“Before the festivities, though, she stopped to see Superintendent Leo M. Frank at the National Pencil Company and pick up from him her $1.20 pay for the one day she had worked there during the previous week….

“Almost no one knew it at the time, but by one o’clock one young life was already over. For her there would never again be parades, or music, or kisses, or flowers, or children, or love. Mary Phagan never left the National Pencil Company alive. Abused, beaten, and strangled by a rough cord pulled so tightly that it had embedded itself deeply in her girlish neck and made her tongue protrude more than an inch from her mouth, Mary Phagan lay dead, dumped in the dirt and shavings of the pencil company basement, her once-bright eyes now sightless and still as she lay before the gaping maw of the furnace where the factory trash was burned.”

Continue Reading →

Grand Jury to Consider Phagan Case This Week

Grand Jury to Consider Phagan Case This WeekAnother in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Journal

Sunday, May 11th, 1913

Intere[s]ts in the investigation of the mysterious murder two weeks ago of little Mary Phagan centered Saturday in the grand jury.

Two men, Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the pencil factotry [sic], where the tragedy occurred, and Newt Lee, negro night watchman, have been ordered held by a coroner’s jury, but no intimation has been given as to the time when bills against the two men will be presented to that body.

The jury is not due to hold a session until next Friday, but the solicitor general or the foreman can call the body together on a few hours’ notice.

While the solicitor will make no definite statement, it is apparent that he will not present the case to the grand jury until the latter part of this week, Thursday or Friday. However, the grand jury has been especially charged to probe the murder and it is in the power of its members to order the witnesses in the case before it at any time.

EARLIEST TRIAL MAY 19.

Owing to the unusual public interest in the cases it is possible that if the grand jury secures a true bill the trial might be set for the week of May 19, when the criminal division of the superior court, Judge L. S. Roan, presiding, next convenes.

Thomas B. Felder, the well known attorney, who has been retained by citizens in the Bellwood district, where the slain girl lived, returned Saturday morning from a week’s trip to New York and Washington. Mr. Felder made the trip to attend to professional business said to be in connection with the Phagan case.

Mr. Felder denied that he had employed William J. Burns, the famous detective, to come to Atlanta in person in an effort to solve the mystery. Continue Reading →