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.

* * *

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 →

Both Sides Called in Conference by Judge; Trial Set for July 28

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Dorsey, Beavers and Lanford Summoned to Appear June 30 With All Affidavits They Have Secured Relative to the Phagan Slaying Case.

Just before the conference with both sides in the Frank case started Judge Roan intimated strongly that he would set the case for July 14 or July 28 and hold it in some more commodious court room than the one in which he sits on the fourth floor of the Thrower building. Judge Roan’s personal inclination leans to a date in July, and it is not likely that the State or defense will object to acceding to his wishes.

The date was definitely fixed for July 28 at the conference.

The first important legal move by the defense in the battle for the life and freedom of Leo Frank, accused of the strangling of Mary Phagan, was made Tuesday in the issuance of subpenas duces tecum for the prime movers in the prosecution of the factory superintendent.

The following have been subpenaed to appear:

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey, who will prosecute the prisoner.

Chief of Police James L. Beavers, who was the leader in obtaining incriminating affidavits.

Pinkerton Detective Harry Scott, to whom is generally given credit for the admissions gained from Conley.

All other city detectives who have worked on the case.

All of them are ordered to produce any affidavits they may have bearing on the case in court June 30, indicating that the defense will be prepared to go on with the trial at that time.

Judge Roan, however, had called a conference of the attorneys on both sides of the case for 2 o’clock in the afternoon, when he announced that he would set the date definitely after the attorneys had been given an opportunity to say whether or not their cases would be in shape to present if the trial were called the last of this month.

Plan to Use Same Evidence.

The startling move on the part of the defense was taken to mean that Frank’s lawyers propose to use to free their client the very evidence the detectives and Solicitor General have collected to send him to the gallows.

The most significant demand is made upon Chief Beavers, who is commanded to bring into court the famed series of affidavits made by the negro sweeper, Jim Conley. It is evident that Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, who are conducting the defense, intend to tear the contradictory stories of the negro to tatters and make his statements so utterly ridiculous and improbable that the jury not only will refuse to accept them, but will interpret them as an effort of Conley to get from under the blame for a crime that he committed himself. Continue Reading →

Frank’s Trial Set For Next Monday

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Indications Are Case Will Begin on That Day—Jury Panel Not Yet Drawn by Judge Roan.

The trial of Leo M Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil Factory, now under indictment for the murder of Mary Phagan on April 26 in the factory, has been definitely set for next Monday. This was the announcement of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey last night after he had been working upon the court calendar for the coming week.

Solicitor Dorsey announced Sunday upon his arrival from New York city where he had spent the past two weeks that he intended to set the case for that date unless something unforeseen should come up. While he did not complete his calendar on Monday, he reached the Frank case and placed it definitely upon the docket.

The defense has indicated that it is ready to go [to] trial and it appears now that the case will actually be taken up on that day. Should it be postponed, it will be after a showing has been made in open court and a postponement granted by Judge L. S. Roan presiding in the criminal division of the superior court where Frank’s fate will be decided.

Panel Not Yet Drawn

The panel of venireman from which the jury to try Frank will be selected is expected to be drawn some time today or Wednesday. This is the duty of Judge Roan. It was rumored that the panel would be drawn from the jury list Monday afternoon, but this was not done. The list of prospective jurymen will not be made public after the drawing and only after their names are called when the trial has started and the task of picking the jury is begun will it be officially known who are the men who compose it.

It is expected that a special venire will be drawn containing the names of about 150 citizens as it is expected that many names will be stricken off the list before lawyers for the state and the defense are finally satisfied. Continue Reading →

July 28 Is Date Agreed Upon for Trial of Frank

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

The Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, June 24, 1913

Judge Names Date After Statement From Reuben R. Arnold, In Which He Said Trial Would Last Two Weeks


Subpenas Duces Tecum Issued, Demanding Production of Affidavits and Popers [sic] in Possession of Solicitor

Leo M. Frank, accused of the slaying of Mary Phagan, will not be tried before superior court Judge L. S. Roan next Monday. The judge in a conference with attorneys at 2 o’clock Tuesday afternoon formally set the trial for Monday, July 28, and no attempt to reopen the questions of arraignment will be made. Both the prosecution and the defense agreed to this date.

Any attempt made to put Frank on trial on next Monday was silenced when Reuben R. Arnold, speaking for the defense, said flatly that the trial would take at least two weeks. The assurance that the trial would last some time and the fact that it likely would be held in the stuffy little court room in the Thrower building, if scheduled Monday, practically caused the postponement.

Solicitor Dorsey, for the state, and Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, for the prosecution, were summoned to the court house by Judge Roan at 3 o’clock and a discussion of the matter was opened.


Solicitor Dorsey announced that he was ready and made the declaration that his witnesses would not take more than two days at the outside. He said if the defense had any he didn’t think they would take any longer.

This remark brought a grunt from Luther Z. Rosser and the Arnold statement that the trial would take two weeks.

“We have the witnesses,” both of the lawyers for the defense asserted.

Both Attorneys Rosser and Arnold told the court that in the event of a postponement of the case for Monday that they desired it to go over until after the week of July 14, when both would be engaged in the trial of Mattie Flanders in Swainsboro. Mr. Rosser represents the defense of Mrs. Flanders and Mr. Arnold the prosecution.

This came when Solicitor Dorsey suggested that the case be tried on July 7.

Judge Roan, in fixing July 28 as a date suitable to all concerned, said that there would be no break in the week, as there would with July 4, that a good court room for the trial could be obtained about July 13, that the jail could be cleared of routine cases by that time and previously made engamenest [sic] would not be interrupted.

All lawyers concerned were in court and the judge asserted that lack of preparation could not be offered as an excuse when the case was called on July 28.

The attorneys for Leo M. Frank Tuesday afternoon secured subpoenas duces tecum to be served on Chief James L. Beavers, Chief N. A. Lanford, Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stevens, Hary [sic] Scott, of the Pinkertons; City Detectives John Black, Pat Campbell and J. N. tSarnes [sic], and Secretary of Chief Lanford, G. C. Febuary, calling upon them to produce in court Monday June 30, or any other day that the Frank case might be on trial, all affidavits or statements secured from Jim Conley, the negro sweeper; Monteen Stover and Grace Hix. Continue Reading →

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.


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.


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)

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 →

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 →

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 Journal

Thursday, June 12th, 1913

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


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.


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 →