Rosser’s Grilling of Negro Leads to Hot Clashes by Lawyers

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

A bitter, determined cross-examination of Jim Conley by Luther Rosser was marked by a prolonged battle between counsel for the defense and State over the method of questioning the negro.

The defense won a complete victory, Judge Roan ruling that the accuser of Leo Frank could be cross-examined on any subject the prisoner’s lawyers saw fit.

In the course of this legal tilt Luther Rosser said:

“I am going after him (referring to Conley) and I am going to jump on him with both feet.”

Turning to counsel for the State he added significantly: “And I won’t enlighten him, either. Your period of enlightenment is over.”

Rosser, before the afternoon session concluded, got the negro to say that he had been lying when he said that he got up at 9 o’clock the day of the crime. He said he got up at 6 o’clock.

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“Smile,” Says Gheesling, “When Facing Bear-Cat Like Luther Rosser”

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

Atlanta Journal
August 2nd, 1913

“Keep smiling on the witness stand.”

That is the motto of Will Gheesling, of the P. J. Bloomfield undertaking establishment, who testified at the Frank trial Thursday.

“When you get a bear cat like Luther Rosser after you,” he declares, “the only thing you can do is to laugh at him.”

Gheesling was one of the few witnesses who came through the ordeal of Attorney Rosser’s cross-examination with flying colors.

His face wreathed in beatific grins, and he calmly fanned himself with a tremendous palm leaf fan from the moment he took the stand until he left it several hours later. Not once did Attorney Rosser’s cross-fire feaze him, not once did the battery of questions from the guns of the defense ruffle his demeanor.

While other witnesses left the stand with dripping brows and a vast respect for Mr. Rosser’s quizzing powers. Gheesling only grinned.

“It was the fan did it, you see,” he stated. “It gave me good luck. Keep fanning and keep smiling. How could I get rattled with this palm leaf?”

Defense Claims Members of Jury Saw Newspaper Headline

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

Atlanta Journal
August 2nd, 1913

WHEN JUDGE ROAN UNWITTINGLY HELD RED HEADLINE IN FRONT OF JURY, DEFENSE MADE POINT

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

FOLLOWING JUDGE’S SPEECH TO THE JURY, TESTIMONY IS RESUMED, NO FURTHER MOTION MADE BY DEFENSE

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

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

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

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

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

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Frank Juror’s Life One Grand, Sweet Song—Not

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 2nd, 1913

O. B. Keeler.

The juror’s life is not unmixed with care.

Look him over next time you attend the Frank trial. Size up his little job. Weigh his responsibility. Consider his problems.

And then, if seeking employment, go out and sign a contract to make little ones out of big ones.

It’s a more satisfactory way of earning $2 a day.

The juror’s business is to collect evidence by the earful, sift the same, separate the true from the false, and make it into a verdict as between the Stat[e] of Georgia and Leo Frank.

On the face of it, the plan is beautifully simple.

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Detective Black Muddled By Keen Cross-Examination Of Attorneys for Defense

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 31st, 1913

Detective John R. Black, the officer who went in Rogers’ machine from the factory to Frank’s residence on the Sunday morning that Mary Phagan’s body was discovered, was next put up by the state. He took the stand at 11:45 o’clock, and was still there when court adjourned for lunch.

In answers to Solicitor Dorsey’s questions he said he had been on the police force for six years and previous to that had worked as n cooper for the Atlanta Brewing and Ice company.

“Do you know any of the directors of this company?” began the solicitor, when he was quickly interrupted by the defense. Despite Mr. Dorsey’s claim that he had a material end in view, the judge ruled with the defense and without making further ado the solicitor started another line of questions.

Black told how he had been waked up at his home on that Sunday morning and told to report at headquarters and how, after a talk with Lee at the station, he had gone to the pencil factory and from there to Frank’s house with Rogers.

He told practically what Rogers had said about Mrs. Frank’s appearance at the door and of Frank’s stepping from behind a portiere curtain in the hall.

“He came out before I got through talking with Mrs. Frank,” said the detective.

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Rosser Riddles One of the State’s Chief Witnesses

Solicitor Dorsey is shown in a characteristic attitude as he questions the state’s witnesses. To his right the defendant, Leo M. Frank, is shown.

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

Atlanta Journal
July 31st, 1913

Detective John Black “Goes to Pieces” Under Rapid-Fire Cross-Questioning of Frank’s Attorney at Afternoon Session

Action characterized the Wednesday afternoon session of the Frank trial, and it was the first time the tedious proceedings had taken on life enough to attract more than passing interest.

This action came in the fierce and merciless cross-examination of Detective John Black by Attorney Rosser, leading counsel for the defense. Black has taken a prominent part in the investigation of the Phagan murder, and it was expected that he would prove one of the state’s principal witnesses, but before Mr. Rosser had finished with him he went all to pieces and admitted that he was hopelessly confused.

There were only two witnesses at the afternoon session—Detective Black and J. M. Gantt, the former shipping clerk at the pencil factory. Gantt was on the stand but about twenty minutes and the only two important points in his testimony were assertions that Frank knew Mary Phagan and that Frank seemed to be frightened and very nervous when the witness saw him at the pencil factory door on the evening of the murder.

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State Balloon Soars When Dorsey, Roiled, Cries ‘Plant’

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 31st, 1913

By JAMES B. NEVIN.

Poor John Black!

With this unwitting assistance of the Solicitor General and the assistance of Luther Rosser, he furnished all the “punch” there was in Wednesday’s story of the Frank trial.

Black evidently was undertaking to tell the truth, and was unwilling to tell more or less than the truth, but that didn’t help matters much, so far as the State was concerned.

When Solicitor Dorsey exclaimed “plant!”—which means nothing more than “faked” or “framed up” evidence for the benefit of the defense—I glanced rapidly at Rosser.

I saw precisely what I expected to see—a momentary flicker of a smile about the lips and eyes of the man, an almost immediate lightening of the lips and narrowing of the eyes, and then a quick return of the habitual ferocious frown.

I knew Dorsey had put his foot in it—put it right in, away up over the ankle, and I also knew that getting that foot back to solid ground again was going to be an undertaking pregnant with extreme difficulty and danger.

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Clash Comes Over Evidence Of Detective John Starnes

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

When Sergeant Dobbs was called from the stand Detective J. M. Starnes, prosecutor of Frank and a detective attached to police headquarters was called in. He has been associated with the solicitor general throughout the Phagan investigation.

The defense and prosecution clashed in perhaps their most spectacular battle over an attempt of Attorney Rosser to force the detective into recalling the exact words of a portion of his testimony at the coroner’s inquest.

An argument was advanced by both Attorneys Dorsey and Hooper and each member of Frank’s counsel Attorneys Arnold and Rosser.

The apparent motive of the defense was to discredit certain portions of Starnes story relative to his telephonic conversation with the accused superintendent when he notified him of the tragedy at daybreak Sunday morning.

The result was a rule by Judge Roan to allow the defense to remind the witness of the exact statement he was wished to recall the exact date and circumstances. It was followed by an amendment, the question finally going unasked.

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Lee, Dull and Ignorant, Calm Under Gruelling Cross Fire

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman of the pencil factory, who telephoned police headquarters of the finding of Mary Phagan’s body at the pencil factory, was again placed upon the stand when court convened Tuesday for the second day’s session.

Attorney Luther Z. Rosser renewed his cross-fire of questions by which he sought to confuse the negro and secure new admissions or change valuable points in his testimony, and thus expose a vulnerable point for a concentrated attack upon his entire statement.

Mr. Rosser took up practically where he had left off the afternoon before.

“Newt, when you raised your lantern you walked forward a few feet. How far did you have to go before finding out what the object that attracted you was?” he began.

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Flashes of Tragedy Pierce Legal Tilts at Frank Trial

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 30th, 1913

By O. B. KEELER.

The trouble is, plain human emotions won’t stick at concert pitch all the time.

And so the Frank trial, after the first twenty minutes, say, becomes much like any other trial.

Except in the flashes.

You get into the courtroom with some formality. At once you are in the midst of order. It is rather ponderous, made-to-order order. But it is order.

Officials stalk about, walking on the balls of their feet, like pussy cats. But they do not purr. They request you to be seated. You must not stand up; you must sit down. Unfortunately, you must stand up to walk to a place to sit down. And that grieves the officials. They mop their faces. One in particular uses an entirely red bandana handkerchief—sometimes for for his face, sometimes to flag standing spectators, who must sit down.

There is order.

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Rosser’s Examination of Lee Just a Shot in Dark; Hoped to Start Quarry

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 30th, 1913

By JAMES B. NEVIN.

If Mr. Luther Z. Rosser’s bite is one-half so dangerous as his growl undoubtedly is disconcerting and awe-inspiring, there will be little save shreds and patches of the prosecution left when the State comes eventually to sum up its case against Leo Frank.

Rosser’s examination of Newt Lee was one of the most nerve racking and interesting I ever listened to.

It reminded me much of a big mastiff worrying and teasing a huge brown rat, and grimly bent eventually upon the rat’s utter annihilation.

A witness up against one of Rosser’s might bombardments is in a decidedly uncomfortable predicament—no doubt about that!

True, Lee snapped back at Rosser and growled angrily every little bit, and strove this way and that to get away from the insistent prod of the tremendously menacing mass of humanity forever in front of him, worrying, teasing, sneering, and threatening, but he could not.

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Will Leo Frank’s Lawyers Put Any Evidence Before the Jury?

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

Will Frank’s lawyers put any evidence before the court?

That is a question that was much discussed on the opening day by a score or more of lawyers who secured seats in the courtroom in order to hear the trial and to watch the way in which the skilled attorneys on both sides handled the case.

The fact that so many witnesses have been summoned by the defense does not mean to the legal mind that Attorneys Rosser and Arnold will put up any evidence any more than the summoning of scores of the accused man’s personal friends means that Frank’s lawyers will put his character in evidence.

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

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

Atlanta Journal
July 29th, 1913

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

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

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

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

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Frank’s Lawyers Ready for Trial

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

Atlanta Constitution
July 26th, 1913

They Have Started Summoning Witnesses and Are Quoted as Having Agreed to Go to Trial.

That Attorneys Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser, representing Leo M. Frank, charged with the Mary Phagan murder, have decided to go to trial Monday when the case is called was information made public Friday from an apparently reliable source. Coupled with this, and apparently making the trial doubly sure, is the news that the defense has started summoning its witnesses and making final preparations for the actual trial.

Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey reiterated Friday his statement in regard to the stand the state has taken and declared that he would oppose every move for continuance, unless there should prove an extraordinary reason for putting it off.

Judge L. S. Roan who will conduct the trial and who was slightly ill Thursday, had apparently recovered Friday and expects to call the case Monday morning should nothing unusual happen.

Despite the fact that the attorneys for the defense still maintain a blank silence in regard to their position and decline to say whether or not they will ask for a postponement, the impression has got out that they have agreed to having the trial come off.

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Protest of Solicitor Dorsey Wins

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, July 21, 1913

Presents Evidence Showing Indictment of Negro Would Hinder Frank Prosecution.

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

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

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

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

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

Defense Said To Be Willing.

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Dorsey Is Seeking to Be Grand Jury And Solicitor Too, Say Frank’s Counsel

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

The Atlanta Journal

Sunday, July 20, 1913

SOLICITOR SCORED FOR HIS ATTITUDE IN CONLEY’S CASE

Rosser and Arnold Charge Dorsey Seeks to Convict Frank, Guilty or Innocent, Out of Professional Pride

“SHUTTING EYES TO TRUTH, DORSEY PROTECTS NEGRO”

Attorneys Intimate That Dorsey Fears to Let Truth Be Known – Attitude Throughout Case Is Criticised

The attitude of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey throughout the Phagan investigation, and especially in his attempt to block a grand jury indictment of Jim Conley, is scored in an interview made public by Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, counsel for Leo M. Frank.

“The solicitor is seeking to convict Frank innocent or guilty, in order to gratify his professional pride,” Frank’s attorneys say.

In the course of the intetrview [sic] the two famous attorneys, who have been engaged to defend the man accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, charge that the solicitor is protecting the negro Conley.

Mr. Dorsey is severely criticised not only for his avowed intention of trying to block the indictment of Conley by the grand jury Monday, but because he prevented the last grand jury, the one, which indicted Frank, from acting on Conley’s case, and because he did not place before the last grand jury any of Conley[‘s] confessions.

Solicitor Dorsey is geeting [sic] his legal and constitutional functions in seeking to control the action of the grand judy [sic],” Attorneys Rosser and Arnold declare.

Despite the criticism of his attitude, there is little doubt that Solicitor Dorsey will be present Monday, when the grand jury takes up the consideration of the Conley case. In fact the solicitor’s presence has been requested by W.D. Beattie, the foreman of the grand jury, who called the meeting.

Solicitor Dorsey is still confident that the grand jury will not indict Conley.

There is little doubt that there will be a quorum present, when the grand jury meeting is called Monday, for Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor has found that  19 of the 20 grand jurors empanneled [sic] are in the city, and they have promised to be present Monday. It takes 18 grand jurors to act on a bill of indictment. The statement of Mr. Rosser and Mr. Arnold, scoring the solicitor is as follows:

STATEMENT IN FULL.

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Counsel of Frank Says Dorsey Has Sought to Hide Facts

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 20, 1913

Attorneys Rosser and Arnold, in a Statement to the Press, Make Bitter Attack on Solicitor for His Conduct of Phagan Case.

Call Attention to Secrecy Maintained by Prosecution, and Declare Action of State’s Attorney Has Inflamed Public Opinion.

Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, attorneys for Leo M. Frank, who will be tried July 29 on the charge of killing Mary Phagan, joined Saturday in a bitter attack upon the policy of Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey, whose procedure in the case, they said, had inflamed public opinion and had placed the Solicitor far below the dignity of his office.

In a formal statement, they charged that Dorsey had ignored his constitutional and legal functions and had sought to usurp those of the Grand Jury by his attempt to block the indictment of Jim Conley by that body.

They described his action as unprecedented and dangerous in the extreme, and represented Dorsey and Conley as partners in “a harmonious concert.”

The document, which is one of the few public statements issued by the defense, is bristling with criticism of the Solicitor’s conduct throughout the investigation of the murder mystery, and charges that Dorsey has maintained his belief in Frank’s guilt apparently for no other purpose than to convict Frank.

Call Attention to Secrecy.

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Pinkertons Now Declare Leo M. Frank Is Innocent

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

The Atlanta Journal

Friday, July 18, 1913

*Editor’s Note: Small sections of text are missing due to scanning near a crease.

NOTED SLEUTHS WHO HAD ACCUSED FRANK NOW CHANGE THEORY

Harry Scott, Field Chief of the Pinkertons, Refuses to Discuss the Agency’s Change of Theory.

AGENTS HAVE WORKED ON CASE ALONG WITH POLICE

The Pinkertons Were Employed by the National Pencil Factory Immediately Following the Murder

That the Pikerton [sic] detectives, who for so many weeks held to the theory that Leo M. Frank is guilty of the Mary Phagan murder, now lay the crime to the door of Jim Conley, is a recent development of interest to the students of the murder mystery.

While Harry Scott, the field chief of the Pinkerton operatives, who have been working on the case practically from the first, employed by the National pencil factory to find Mary Phagan’s murderer, regardless of who the criminal might be, refuses to discuss the case, the Journal has learned from unquestioned authority that the theory of the Pinkertons has undergone a change.

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Many Rumors Afloat Regarding Grand Jury

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Friday, July 18, 1913

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Dorsey Blocked Indictment of Conley

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, July 17, 1913

*Editor’s Note: This article ran in other editions of the Georgian with slight variations in the headline.

GRAND JURY AGREED NOT TO ACT

Solicitor Bitterly Opposes Plan of New Body to Reconsider Slaying Case.

That the most strenuous opposition of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey was all that prevented the last Grand Jury from reopening its investigation of the Phagan mystery with a view of indicting the negro Jim Conley became known Thursday.

It was admitted by persons acquainted with the events in the Grand Jury room that the Solicitor’s determined stand only blocked a consideration of the negro’s connection with the crime. Well-substantiated report also has it that Solicitor Dorsey before he would venture on his vacation took the precaution of insisting on some sort of a guarantee from the jurors that they would take no action in his absence.

Acceding to his request, the Grand Jury of that time passed resolutions pledging itself to waive all consideration of the Phagan mystery until the Solicitor’s return.

Hot Fight Certain.

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