Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 14th, 1913
By JAMES B. NEVIN.
The defense in the Frank case did the expected thing when it boldly and unequivocally put Frank’s character in issue.
It indicated its confidence in the justice of the defendant’s cause in doing that, and it met thus a crisis that it hardly could have successfully overcome otherwise, if it so happen that it does overcome it eventually.
Having taken the initiative in the matter of thrashing out Frank’s character, the State will now be forced to make out an unmistakable case of bad character against Frank, or it is likely that the State’s injection of the sinister charge against him, in addition to the charge of murder, may operate as a boomerang to the State’s great hurt finally.
It is not to be wondered at that the defendant’s mother, tried and racked in spirit and pride as she surely must have been, should have let her feelings overcome her for an instant during the course of Wednesday afternoon’s hearing. I do not suppose it is even remotely possible for any person not a mother to understand all she has gone through.
Her vehement protest against the vile things being said and hinted about her boy—true or untrue, though such things always are untrue in mother love, I take it—serves to illustrate, however, how very vital to the defense now is the establishing of Frank’s good character.
I doubt that anything thus far said to the jury has so profoundly impressed it as the unspeakable thing Conley said of the defendant. The jury is only human, and it can no more dodge impressions than other people can.
Impression Must Be Erased.
The defense is up against the herculean task of removing all of that impression from the mind of the jury—the twelve minds of the jury, indeed—for it will not do to leave even a fraction of Conley’s story undemolished!
Manifestly, therefore, the defense could not, if it would get away altogether from the matter of Frank’s character. It found itself necessarily forced to the other extreme of the situation set up by the State.Continue Reading →