State to Fight Move to Indict Jim Conley

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, July 16, 1913

Grand Jury Foreman Admits That Action Against the Negro Is Considered.

The reported proposal by some of the members of the Grand Jury to meet for an investigation of Jim Conley’s connection with the murder of Mary Phagan has precipitated a sharp struggle in which Solicitor Dorsey has declared himself bitterly opposed to any action looking toward the indictment of the negro as a principal in the crime or even as an accessory after the fact, as the negro admits himself to be.

The fight has resolved itself into a contest to determine whether Conley shall go on the stand in the trial of Leo Frank as a reputable, trustworthy and free citizen, the status in which the Solicitor wishes to maintain him, or as a prisoner with the shadow of an indictment hanging over him.

In the latter aspect, several of the members of the Grand Jury are said to contend that he should appear, inasmuch as he is a confessed accessory and a possible principal.

The defense is said not to be opposed to the review of the case by the Grand Jury at this time nor to the indictment of Conley. Luther Z. Rosser, chief counsel for Frank, has charged from the first that Conley was the man guilty of the slaying of Mary Phagan, and it is presumed that he would be willing to enjoy the tactical advantage that the indictment of Conley probably would give the defense.

W.D. Beattie, foreman of the Grand Jury, intimated Thursday morning that the matter of calling the body together to consider a Conley indictment was under consideration by some of the members, but he said that no formal request had as yet been made for him to convene them. He said that he would issue the call when he had received a sufficient number of requests.

It is understood that the requests will be submitted to the foreman Thursday, on the ground that the evidence connecting Jim Conley directly with the crime is infinitely stronger than the evidence on which Leo Frank was indicted about two months ago, and that for this reason Conley should not be permitted to go before a jury as a free and unsuspected man and testify against Frank.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 16th 1913, “State to Fight Move to Indict Jim Conley,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Mincey’s Own Story

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, July 14, 1913

*Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the Night Edition under the headline “Mincey Tells of Confession.”

Tells How Conley Confessed Killing Girl

‘I AM SEEKING ONLY TO DO MY DUTY FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE’

The Georgian Secures Remarkable Statement From Chief Witness for Defense in the Trial of Frank. Declares Belief in Conley’s Guilt.

On Thursday, July 10, The Georgian published the exclusive story of an affidavit in the possession of the lawyers for Leo M. Frank, accused of the murder of Mary Phagan, made by W.H. Mincey, an insurance agent, the substance of which was to the effect that Jim Conley, the negro sweeper at the pencil factory, had confessed that he killed the little girl.

In his affidavit, Mincey declared that he met the negro Conley at Electric avenue and Carter street on the afternoon of the murder; that Conley was intoxicated and when approached by Mincey for insurance became angry and exclaimed, threateningly: “I have killed a girl to-day; I don’t want to kill nobody else.”

The Georgian has now secured from Mincey a complete statement of his connection with the Phagan case. It is as follows:

By W.H. MINCEY

Continue Reading →

Affidavits to Back Mincey Story Found

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 13, 1913

Attorney Leavitt Declares Tale That Conley Admitted Killing Girl Will Stand Test.

NEWT LEE STILL HELD IN JAIL

Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey Promises to Present a Bill Against Him as Suspect.

That several negro women overheard Jim Conley when he ran the insurance agent, Mincey, away with the alleged statement that he had just killed a girl and didn’t want to kill anyone else, and that the affidavits from the women are in the hands of the attorneys for the defense, was stated Saturday by Attorney J.H. Leavitt, who aided in obtaining the sensational affidavit from Mincey.

Attorney Leavitt defended the character of the man who made the affidavit and denied emphatically that Mincey even asked about the money he would receive as a witness, except whether his railroad fare would be paid if he were out of the city.

Explains Dukes’ Doubts.

Continue Reading →

Lee Must Remain Behind the Bars

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 13, 1913

Solicitor Dorsey Does Not Believe the Negro Guilty of Any Part in Crime.

That Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey does not believe that Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the National Pencil factory, who was bound over by the grand jury with Superintendent Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan, is guilty, was the only matter of importance brought out yesterday at the hearing of the habeas corpus before Judge W.D. Ellis by which Lee’s attorneys, Graham & Chappell, sought to free him.

Judge Ellis denied the motion for habeas corpus and remanded Lee back to the custody of the sheriff to await the outcome of Frank’s trial. Attorneys L.Z. Rosser and Reuben Arnold were also successful in their fight to prevent Frank being brought into court to testify.

Solicitor Dorsey declared that he had not brought a bill against Lee before the grand jury because he believed he had no evidence which would indict Lee.

The negro’s attorneys secured from the sheriff a statement that Lee would be given more eexrcise [sic], as the darkey declared that this was all that was troubling him. He said he was getting stiff from staying in his cell.

“Frank has the entire freedom of the jail whenever he wants it,” declared Attorney Chappell, “and Lee ought to be allowed some chance to take exercise.”

The character of the darkey and his love for the juicy fruit of a Georgia watermelon came out when Lee was being taken back to jail in charge of Deputy Plennie Miner.

“Why don’t you get Mr. Miner to buy you a nigh beer, Newt?” said a bystander.

“Ah don’t want no beer; all Ah wants is er watermelon,” replied the negro, and his large eyes rolled hopefully in his head.

“Ah ain’t had er melon this summer, and it’s the fust time that July ever come ’round without me having er melon.”

* * *

The Atlanta Constitution, July 13th 1913, “Lee Must Remain Behind the Bars,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

More Affidavits to Support Mincey Claimed

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

The Atlanta Journal

Saturday, July 12, 1913

Frank’s Attorneys Said to Have Corroborating Evidence, Newt Lee Denied Freedom

Joseph H. Leavitt, an attorney, with offices at 422 Grant building, the man who secured the affidavit of W.H. Mincey, who alleges that James Conley confessed to the killing of a girl on April 26, the day Mary Phagan was murdered, declares that a number of affidavits fully corroborating every word that Mincey has said, are in the hands of counsel for the defense of Leo M. Frank.

Mr. Leavitt states that the Mincey affidavit is really much stronger than the published reports, which have purported to give its substance.

The reports are correct as far as they go, Mr. Leavitt admitted to a Journal reporter, but the affidavit dictated and signed by Mincey contains still more testimony, damaging to Conley.

“Mincey is a good citizen,” Mr. Leavitt told a Journal reporter, “a man of education and of character. However, every assertion which he made in the affidavit has been corroborated.”

“Then you must mean that some one else heard the confession Mincey claims that Conley made?” the reporter asked.

“Yes, others head [sic] it,” was the answer of Attorney Leavitt.

While he states that he doesn’t know his address, Mr. Leavitt says that he is confidence [sic] that Mincey will be here when Leo M. Frank faces a jury on the charge of murdering Mary Phagan.

Mincey in his affidavit claims that he went to see Conley on the afternoon of April 26, the day Mary Phagan was murdered to solicit insurance from him, and that Conley became angered and told him that he had killed a little girl that day and did not want to have to kill another person.

The police make light of the Mincey affidavit, and say that Mincey once came to headquarters to identify a man he had seen drunk in the negro quarter. He saw Conley, they say, and then admitted that he had never seen the engro [sic] before.

Attorney Leavitt says that the affidavit will give a good reason for Mincey’s failure to make known at once the information, which he claims to have on the sensational murder case.

Solicitor General Dorsey and Attorney Frank A. Hooper, who will assist him in the prosecution of Frank, grilled James Conley at headquarters for more than an hour Friday afternoon. While Mr. Dorsey would not discuss the matter, it is understood that he questioned Conley closely about the statements alleged to have been to Mincey, and the negro claims that he never saw [the] insurance agent except at police headquarters.

LEE DENIED FREEDOM.

Continue Reading →

Conley Kept on Grill 4 Hours

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, July 12, 1913

After Gruelling Third Degree, Officials Refuse to Deny or Affirm Negro Confessed.

Habeas corpus proceedings to release Newt Lee collapsed in the court of Judge Ellis Saturday morning.

By agreement, Bernard L. Chappell, representing Lee, withdrew his application for a habeas corpus; Solicitor Dorsey promised to present a bill against Lee as a suspect in the Phagan murder case, with the expectation that a “no bill” would be returned. This appeared satisfactory to the attorneys for Lee, as well as to the State.

Luther Z. Rosser, Reuben R. Arnold and Herbert J. Haas, of counsel for Frank, were in court to fight against the appearance of Frank as a witness. William M. Smith represented Conley, one of the witnesses subpenaed.

Jim Conley underwent a racking third degree late Friday afternoon at the hands of Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and Attorney Frank A. Hooper in an effort to verify or discredit the W.H. Mincey affidavit, in which the negro was charged with confessing to the murder of a girl on the afternoon that Mary Phagan met her death.

The grilling of nearly four hours followed The Georgian’s publication of the details of Mincey’s accusations and was undertaken with the utmost secrecy, an attempt being made to avoid knowledge of the “sweating” becoming public by taking Conley to the Commissioners’ room on the second floor of the police station by a circuitous route.

Negro’s Most Severe Ordeal.

Continue Reading →

Says Women Heard Conley Confession

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, July 12, 1913

*Editor’s Note: This article also ran with the headlines “Says Women Overheard Conley Confess” and “Says Women Heard Conley Confess” in the Final and Home Editions, respectively. The headline used here is from the Night Edition.

AFFIDAVITS SUPPORT MINCEY STORY

Attorney Leavitt Declares Tale That Negro Admitted Killing Girl Will Stand Test.

That several negro women overheard Jim Conley when he ran the insurance agent, Mincey, away with the alleged statement that he had just killed a girl and didn’t want to kill any one else, and that the affidavits from the women are in the hands of the attorneys for the defense, was stated Saturday by Attorney J.H. Leavitt, who aided in obtaining the sensational affidavit from Mincey.

Attorney Leavitt defended the character of the man who made the affidavit and denied emphatically that Mincey even asked about the money he would receive as a witness, except whether his railroad fare would be paid if he were out of the city.

Explains Dukes’ Doubts.

Continue Reading →

Girl Tells Police Startling Story of Vice Ring

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Friday, July 11, 1913

THREE NEW VICE WAR ARRESTS

Man Prisoner Declares He Will Bare the Whole System if Brought to Trial.

As a result of statements made to Chief Beavers Friday morning by Hattie Smith, the young girl who has been held for the Grand Jury in connection with the vice war, Detective Rosser at noon arrested three persons—two men and a woman—who were named by the Smith girl as contributing to her downfall and being involved in her white slavery charges.

The persons under arrest are Paul Estes, 52 Queen Street; Hoyt Monroe, Edgewood, and Mrs. Lola White, 768 Marietta Street.

The woman is a cousin of Hattie Smith and lives next door, while both Estes and Monroe are in the employ of the Collier Garage at Cone and James Streets, where the Smith girl says she met Lena Barnhardt, who later took her to the Cumberland Hotel.

Says She Went Joy Riding.

Continue Reading →

Says Conley Confessed Slaying

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, July 10, 1913

*Editor’s Note: Articles with the titles “Tells of Conley Confession” and “Says Conley Confessed” also appeared in other editions of the Georgian.

NEGRO MADE BOAST OF KILLING A GIRL, AGENT DECLARES

Attorneys for Frank Will Put Main Reliance of Defense on the Startling Affidavit Made by W. H. Mincey and Now in Their Possession.

That Jim Conley, negro sweeper at the National Pencil Factory, made a virtual confession to him that he attacked and killed Mary Phagan is the startling allegation made in an affidavit by William H. Mincey, until recently a solicitor for the American Insurance Company, of 115 1/2 North Pryor Street.

It became known Thursday that this affidavit, which is in the hands of the defense, will be the principal reliance, aside from the alibis which have been established for Frank, in bringing an acquittal of the accused man and obtaining a conviction against the negro.

No other evidence, in all of the more than two months’ investigation of the mystery, has been so damning and so direct. The defense has practically only to establish the credibility of Mincey to assure itself of victory.

Said He Had Killed Girl.

Continue Reading →

Mary Phagan Pay Envelope Found

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

The Atlanta Journal

Wednesday, July 9, 1913

MYSTERY’S LOST LINK IS FOUND NEAR WHERE CONLEY SAYS HE SAT

Finding of Portion of Salary Envelope Bearing Victim’s Name Expected to Strengthen Defense’s Contention

CONTENTS OF ENVELOPE HAVE NEVER BEEN FOUND

Find Was Made by Pinkertons Just Three Weeks After the Murder, but Was Kept a Secret Until Wednesday.

The pay envelope, which was the quest of Mary Phagan’s visit to the National Pencil factory on April 26, when she met her death, has been found.

At least enough of the envelope to definitely identify it is in the hands of the authorities.

The upper corner of the pay envelope, bearing the name of the victim of the sensational murder mystery, was found on the first floor of the factory by Pinkerton detectives three weeks after the commission of the crime.

While attorneys for the defense and the prosecution have known of the find for weeks, the fact only became public Wednesday.

The corner of the pay envelope was found on the first floor of the factory, behind a radiator, about 15 feet from the stairway and about 8 feet from the place, where James Conley, the negro sweeper, says he sat for more than an hour on the day of the tragedy.

Continue Reading →

Attitude of Defense Secret

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, July 8, 1913

Attorneys for Accused Man Can Keep Him From Facing Accuser if They Wish.

That Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the National Pencil Factory, and James Conley, Frank’s accuser in the Mary Phagan murder mystery, would be brought face to face Tuesday was the strong possibility presented by the contemplated application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the factory.

The plan of bringing Conley and Frank together may meet an insurmountable obstacle when it comes to getting the permission of Frank’s attorneys. The law allows an indicted man to testify or to refuse to testify. Frank has been willing to appear as a witness at any time, but he has placed himself under the instructions of his lawyers and the matter is entirely in their hands.

Arnold is Non-commital.

Continue Reading →

State Sure Lee Will Not Be Released

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, July 8, 1913

Dorsey Confident That Move, Which May Confront Frank With Conley, Is Futile.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey said Tuesday he was confident the State would be able to defeat any attempt to get Newt Lee out of the Tower, where he has been confined since April 27, first as a suspect in the Mary Phagan murder case and later as a material witness. He said he had advised Lee’s attorney not to take the action, as the negro was regarded as an important witness in making a complete chain of evidence against Leo M. Frank.

No petition was filed in behalf of the negro Tuesday forenoon. There was no judge before whom the petition could be brought in the afternoon, although in rare instances writs of habeas corpus are filed with the Ordinary of the county. Lee’s counsel has until Friday to file the application. It was the announced intention to subpena both Frank and Jim Conley to appear at the hearing on the write [sic].

Continue Reading →

Grants Right to Demand Lee’s Freedom

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, July 8, 1913

Negro’s Counsel Secures Chance to Argue for Habeas Corpus Writ Wednesday.

Reuben R. Arnold, of counsel for Leo M. Frank, communicated with Sheriff Mangum Tuesday afternoon directing him under no circumstances to permit the removal of Frank to appear Wednesday as a witness in the habeas corpus hearing to free Newt Lee.

“There is no law on earth to bring Frank to court under an order as a witness,” said Arnold. Attorney Rosser, chief of counsel, was absent from the city Tuesday.

Continue Reading →

New Move in Phagan Case by Solicitor

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 6, 1913

Dorsey Will Endeavor to Force Defense to Disclose Their Documentary Evidence.

ACT IS COUNTERSTROKE

Frank’s Attorneys Said to Have Affidavits Exonerating Frank and Indicating Conley’s Guilt.

A sensational turn in the Phagan murder mystery, according to one of the attorneys for the defense, will develop next week when Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey issues a subpena duces tecum on Attorneys Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben Arnold, citing them to produce all the affidavits they have secured that bear on the crime.

The movement is in the nature of a counterstroke to block the pending subpenas duces tecum filed by the defense, citing the State to produce all the affidavits that have been secured.

The defense strongly maintains that it will win its point and that the prosecution will suffer. The attorneys say that the Constitution of the State clearly outlines the action of the court in such matters—”that the defendant is entitled to be faced with all the evidence against him”—while the prosecution will labor under the handicap that “a defendant is innocent until he is proven guilty.”

Dorsey Is Silent.

While no announcement would be made by Solicitor Dorsey relative to the contemplated subpenas duces tecum, it was intimated by him that such action might be taken at an early date, and that when it was the defense and the prosecution would lock horns in the first decisive battle in the sensational case.

Affidavits that are sought by the defense are the three different sworn statements of the negro, Jim Conley, the affidavit given by the negro cook at the Frank home, Minola McKnight, the Formby affidavit and the affidavit of Monteen Stover, the girl who stated that she entered Frank’s office at a time when he said he was there, and found the office deserted.

The State will seek to obtain affidavits contradicting their theory and placing the crime on the negro sweeper, Jim Conley. These affidavits are said to deal principally with the time different witnesses entered and left the factory April 26, the most vital question in the trial.

Affidavits of Defense.

The defense is said to be in possession of affidavits that show Monteen Stover entered and departed from the factory before Mary Phagan’s car reached the heart of the city; that the negro Jim Conley entered the factory earlier in the day than he said he did, and that he, instead of the indicted pencil factory superintendent, committed the murder, because the superintendent left the factory at least ten minutes before Conley said he helped him dispose of the body, and that the Formby affidavit, a one-time sensational bit of evidence substantiating the defense, was given by the woman at the behest of the police detectives without regard for its accuracy, and that Mrs. Formby has since admitted that she never knew Leo M. Frank or heard of him until he was held as a suspect in connection with the murder.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, July 6th 1913, “New Move in Phagan Case by Solicitor,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Phagan Case Centers on Conley; Negro Lone Hope of Both Sides

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 6, 1913

*Editor’s Note: See insert article, “Decisions Which May Aid Defense of Frank”, at the conclusion of this post.

Frank Expects Freedom by Breaking Down Accuser’s Testimony, and State a Conviction by Establishing Truth of Statements.

BY AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

The developments in the Phagan case have been of late highly significant and interesting.

During the past week, it became evident that the very heart and soul of both the prosecution and the defense is to center largely about the negro, James Conley.

He is at once apparently the hope and the despair of both sides to the contest!

This circumstance, however, while tending to add much to the dramatic and the uncertain, in so far as the outcome is concerned, is not by any means an unusual thing in cases of this kind.

It frequently happens in mysterious murder cases that both the State and the defense must pin their faith to one and the same witness.

Of late there has been some talk of the Grand Jury indicting Conley, even over the Solicitor General’s head, which, of course, it would have a perfect right to do.

The thought occurred to me some time ago that the case might take that direction, but in the article in which that point was discussed, I mentioned it incidentally, rather than as a likely thing.

Indictment may Mean Much.

Continue Reading →

New Testimony Lays Crime to Conley

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Friday, July 4, 1913

Frank Defense Locates Witness Who Points to the Negro Sweeper as Slayer.

A new witness, said to have the most damaging evidence yet produced against Jim Conley, the negro sweeper in the National Pencil factory, entered the Phagan case Thursday and made an affidavit, the contents fo [sic] which are carefully guarded by attorneys for Leo M. Frank, charged with causing the death of the factory girl.

The identity of the witness is as much a secret as the exact nature of his testimony. It was learned, though, that the affidavit was made in the law office of Joseph Leavitt in the Grant Building and was witnessed by Mr. Leavitt’s stenographer.

It is said the testimony of this man connects Conley more directly with the crime than any other statement or affidavit yet procured by the defense. The witness is understood to have seen Conley on the afternoon of the crime and to have heard him make remarks in his drunken condition which were extremely incriminating. Continue Reading →

Writ Sought In Move to Free Negro Lee

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Thursday, July 3, 1913

Attorney for Watchman Declares Client Knows Nothing of the Actual Crime.

Bernard L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, negro night watchman at the pencile [sic] factory, held in the Phagan case, stated Thursday morning that he would swear out a writ of habeas corpus for the release of the negro.

Attorney Chappell stated that he had come to the conclusion that there was nothing the negro knew about the crime except finding the body, and that the State had no right to keep him without some charge or as a material witness.

Lee was the first suspect arrested in connection with Mary Phagan’s murder. He was ordered held by the Coroner, but when a bill of indictment was offered the Grand Jury at the same time of the Frank indictment, no action was taken against the negro.

Weak Spots in Conley Tale.

Chappell said the writ of habeas corpus would compel the State either to order the negro held as a material witness or make some charge against him.

Conley, in relating his dramatic tale of carrying the body of Mary Phagan from the rear of the second floor and disposing of it at the direction of Frank in a dark corner of the gloomy basement, said that when he reached the elevator he had to wait until Frank went into his office for a key to the elevator door.

The defense will maintain, it is understood, that the elevator door had not been locked for some time. Witnesses will be called to testify that the door had remained unlocked in accordance with instructions from the firms with which the building was insured. From this alleged circumstance, it will be argued that the negro’s story is a fabrication devised to shield himself from the charge of murder and to shift the responsibility onto another man.

Continue Reading →

New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Rosser’s Closing Arguments, part 2

Leo Frank posing for Collier’s Weekly. The photo would later become the front cover for the book The Truth About the Frank Case by C.P. Connolly.

THIS WEEK in our audio book series we present part 2, the final part, of the powerful, skillful closing arguments of Luther Z. Rosser for the defense of Leo Frank (pictured) in his trial for the murder of Mary Phagan, read by Vanessa Neubauer. Rosser, possibly the most feared lawyer in Atlanta in his day, was a mouthpiece and “fixer” for the rich and powerful.

This series encompasses the American Mercury’s coverage of the 1913 trial and conviction of Jewish sex killer Leo Frank — a case which was one of the inspirations for the establishment of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). We will be presenting the extensive arguments, both for the defense and the prosecution, in order and in full — a monumental, book-length project. Today we present the concluding arguments of Luther Z. Rosser for the defense.

Mr. Rosser denies in his speech that the pro-Frank forces planted false evidence to implicate the Black night watchman, Newt Lee, in the murder:

Continue Reading →

New Audio Book: The American Mercury on Leo Frank – Rosser’s Closing Arguments, part 1

Luther Rosser

THIS WEEK in our audio book series we present part 1 of the powerful, skillful closing arguments of Luther Z. Rosser (pictured) for the defense of Leo Frank in his trial for the murder of Mary Phagan, read by Vanessa Neubauer. Rosser was respected — and feared — as one of the best attorneys of his generation. He was the “go to” man for the wealthy and powerful in early 20th-century Georgia who found themselves in legal difficulty and needed their troubles “swept away.”

This series encompasses the American Mercury’s coverage of the 1913 trial and conviction of Jewish sex killer Leo Frank — a case which was one of the inspirations for the establishment of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). We will be presenting the extensive arguments, both for the defense and the prosecution, in order and in full — a monumental, book-length project. Today we present the arguments of Luther Z. Rosser for the defense.

Mr. Rosser states in his speech, about the factory girls who testified that Frank had a bad character for lasciviousness:

Well, gentlemen, the older I get the gentler I get and I wouldn’t think or say anything wrong about those misleading little girls who swore Frank was a bad man. I guess they thought they were telling the truth. Well, did Miss Maggie Griffin really think Frank was a vicious man and yet work there three years with him! Don’t you think she heard things against him after the crime was committed and that when she got up here and looked through the heated atmosphere of this trial, she did not see the real truth! And Miss Maggie Griffin, she was there two months. I wonder what she could know about Frank in that time. There was Mrs. Donegan and Miss Johnson and another girl there about two months, and Nellie Potts, who never worked there at all, and Mary Wallace, there three days, and Estelle Wallace, there a week and Carrie Smith, who like Miss Cato, worked there three years. These are the only ones in the hundreds who have worked there since 1908 who will say that Frank has a had character. Why, you could find more people to say that the Bishop of Atlanta, I believe, had a bad character, than have been brought against Frank.

You can follow along with the original text here.

Mr. Rosser also makes light of the claim by the prosecution that Frank’s nervousness on the day after the murder was an indication of guilt:

Now, what else have they put up against this man! They say he was nervous. We admit he was. Black says it, Darley says it, Sig. Montag says it — others say it! The handsome Mr. Darley was nervous and our friend Schiff was nervous. Why not hang them if you’re hanging men for nervousness! Isaac Haas — old man Isaac — openly admits he was nervous. The girls — why don’t you hang them, these sweet little girls in the factory — all of whom were so nervous they couldn’t work on the following day! If you had seen this little child, crushed, mangled, mutilated, with the sawdust crumbled in her eyes and her tongue protruding; staring up from that stinking, smelling basement, you’d have been nervous, too, every mother’s son of you. Gentlemen, I don’t profess to be chicken-hearted. I can see grown men hurt and suffering and I can stand a lot of things without growing hysterical, but I never walked along the street and heard the pitiful cry of a girl or woman without becoming nervous. God grant I will always be so. Frank looked at the mangled form and crushed virginity of Mary Phagan and his nerves fluttered. Hang him! Hang him!

Rosser made no mention, however, of Frank’s extreme nervousness the day before, after the murder had taken place but before the body had been discovered.

Continue Reading →

Frank Is Willing for State to Grill Him

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Tuesday, July 1, 1913

Accused Man Declares He’s Anxious Even for Prosecution to Cross-Examine.

Surpassing in interest any of the other testimony at the trial of Leo M. Frank will be the story related on the stand by the accused man himself. That Frank will make a detailed statement of his movements on the day that Mary Phagan was murdered is regarded as one of the certainties of the trial.

It was learned Wednesday that Frank was desirous of going even further than this by being sworn and submitting to a cross-examination by the attorneys for the prosecution. He will request his lawyers, Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, that the privilege of cross-examination be extended the State.

Continue Reading →