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


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


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:


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Seek Negro Who Says He Was Eye-Witness to Phagan Murder

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 13, 1913

Fugitive, Reported to Have Been Traced to Birmingham, Declares That He Witnessed the Attack on the Girl Slain in the Pencil Plant.


Loser at Dice, He Declares, Planned to Rob Victim as She Came From Getting Pay—Tried to Prevent the Crime and, Failing, Fled.

Report that a negro who has declared that he witnessed the attack by another negro upon Mary Phagan, which resulted in her death in the National Pencil Factory on the afternoon of April 26, has been apprehended in Birmingham, became known Saturday night.

If this information is substantiated, its substance is of such startling character as to revolutionize the present status of the Phagan case, casting down practically every bulwark which has been erected in the prosecution of Leo M. Frank for the murder.

In its present form, however, The Sunday American does not vouch for the correctness of the report. Only the fact that it comes from a source which is so near the defense of the pencil factory head as to make it authoritative and the admission by those connected with the actual legal defense of Frank, prompts this newspaper to present the sensational story, asking that it be taken for what, on its face, it is shown to be worth.

Negro Hunted Since May.

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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.


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Newt Lee’s Attorneys Seeking His Freedom

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

The Atlanta Journal

Tuesday, July 8, 1913

Habeas Corpus Proceedings May Bring Frank and Conley Face to Face

Petition for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of Newt Lee, the negro night watchman at the National Pencil factory who has been held in jail since the Mary Phagan murder as a suspect, has been drawn up at 2 o’clock Tuesday afternoon by the negro’s attorneys, Graham and Chappell, and the firm then was seeking the signature of the nearest available judge of the Fulton superior court to a writ fixing the time and place for a hearing upon the matter and directing Newt Lee be brought into court.

It is by this method that the negro is said to seek his freedom from jail, contending that there is no reason for confining him for any part in the matter. The solicitor is expected to vigorously fight the habeas corpus and insist that Lee be held as a material witness.

Should the petition be signed both the state and the attorneys for Leo M. Frank will be notified and this brings up the possibility of Frank and the negro sweeper, Conley, being brought face to face in court.

At 2 o’clock it was said that the habeas corpus hearing would probably be set for Wednesday morning at 9:30 o’clock.

The following is Newt Lee’s petition:

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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.

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Sheriff Mangum Near End, Says Lawyer Smith

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, June 14, 1913

Attorney for Conley Injects Politics Into Dispute Over Negro’s Place of Confinement.

William M. Smith, counsel for James Conley, confessed accessory after the fact in the killing of Mary Phagan, in a statement Saturday sought to make a political issue out of his controversy with Sheriff Mangum over the alleged treatment Conley received while in the Tower.

Attorney Smith employed references to his own previous statement that the jail was five stories high; was divided into four wings with seventeen cell blocks distributed over five floors, to discredit Sheriff Mangum’s characterization of the entire affidavit as “an infamous lie.”

He continued by asking if his other references to the structural conditions at the Tower also were lies. He added that Conley had furnished him with an affidavit as to the treatment he had received as a prisoner at the jail, and said he had given to Sheriff Mangum the name of one person, though what the charges are against this person the attorney does not specify. He intimated he had performed services for the Sheriff in the past and that there was much more he could tell if he desired.

The attorney concludes his reply to the Sheriff by the observation that Mr. Mangum “must be reaching the point where his usefulness to the public in his present position is at an end, and the citizens of this county would do well to select from among his ranks of splendid deputies a new Sheriff in the next election.”

In discussing his affidavit, Mr. Smith remarked:

“I did state that I thought the condition was due to the physical construction of the jail and to the fact that the county authorities did not give Sheriff Mangum money to hire sufficient guards. I stated that the best Sheriff in the world, with the best and the most efficient deputies, could probably do no better under the conditions that Sheriff Mangum and his deputies were placed. If I lied anywhere, it was in an effort to exonerate Sheriff Mangum from any blame in connection with the conditions in Fulton County jail.

“Mangum may forget, but he has men on his force who do not, and the general public remembers the weight of obligation that should rest upon him for services rendered by me to him in the past. For him to rush into public print and denounce me as an ‘infamous liar,’ probably without reading the many statements made in my affidavit exonerating him and his men, is not entirely surprising to me.

“If Sheriff Mangum wants me to tell the general public through the press the conditions as I know them to exist relative to the Fulton County jail, I can do it, and with the gloves off.”

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, June 14th 1913, “Sheriff Mangum Near End, Says Lawyer Smith,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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 →

Negro Cook at Home Where Frank Lived Held by the Police


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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

Woman Questioned by Dorsey, Becomes Hysterical; Solicitor Refuses to Tell Whether She Gave Important Information; Alibi for Defense.

Minola Mcknight, the negro cook in the household of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, 68 Georgia Avenue, with whom Leo M. Frank lived, was put through the severest sort of grilling in the office of Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey Monday in an effort to break down Frank’s alibi which tends to show that he was at home about the time James Conley swore the notes found by Mary Phagan’s body were written.

The negro woman grew histerical [sic] and her shrieks and protestations could be heard through the closed door. She maintained to the end of the two hours of rapid-fire questioning, however, that Frank had arrived home by 1:30 o’clock the Saturday afternoon of the crime.

She was taken into custody on information said to have been furnished by her husband. She later was taken to the police station to be held under suspicion. The details of her statements to the solicitor and the full import of the information said to have been disclosed by her husband have been shrouded with the utmost secrecy by Solicitor Dorsey. It is said, however, that she declared to the last that Frank had arrived home by 1:30 o’clock to her positive knowledge.

Her sobs and hysterical cries were heard soon after she entered the office of the solicitor. Mr. Dorsey was able to quiet her for a few minutes at a time, when it is supposed he obtained her statement of Frank’s whereabouts on Saturday, April 26, so far as she knew. At detective headquarters, the officers were non-commital as to the nature or value of the testimony that the engro [sic] woman had given. Continue Reading →

5 to Testify Frank Was at Home at Hour Negro Says He Aided


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

Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

Defense to Cite Discrepancies in Time to Disprove Conley’s Affidavit—Sheriff Denies Friends of Superintendent Approached Sweeper in Cell.

After a two-hour grilling by Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey Minola McKnight, a negro woman about 21 years old, was taken to police headquarters and is held under suspicion in connection with the murder of Mary Phagan.

She is believed to have made sensational disclosures to the solicitor.

At the police station she was in hysteria, shouting:

“I am going to hang, but I didn’t do it.”

* * *

Five persons will be prepared to testify at the trial of Leo M. Frank that he arrived at home for luncheon at 1:20 o’clock the Saturday afternoon that Mary Phagan was killed, which would have been an impossibility, the defense will assert, if Frank had directed the disposal of the body and dictated the notes at the time the negro alleges.

Testimony before the Coroner’s jury by Frank and others indicated strongly that he was at home by 1:20 the afternoon of the crime.  Conley in his affidavits declared that he went into Frank’s office at four minutes before 1 o’clock. He said that after a conversation of a few minutes Frank heard voices and shoved Conley into a closet. Miss Corinthia Hall and Mrs. Emma Clark entered. Conley was kept a prisoner in the closet, he said, for eight or ten minutes. Continue Reading →

Frank Asked Room to Conceal Body Believes Lanford


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

Atlanta Constitution

Monday, June 2nd, 1913

Detective Chief Forms New Theory as to Reason Why Prisoner Is Said to Have Phoned Mrs. Formby.


Lanford Says He Will Find Her in Time for Trial, But Does Not Know Where She Is Now.

That Leo M. Frank telephoned Mrs. Formby on the night of Mary Phagan’s murder for a room to which he would be able to remove the victim’s body and thereby lessen suspicion against himself, is the theory on which Chief Newport Lanford is basing a search for Mrs. Formby, which is extending over the entire south.

She mysteriously disappeared several days ago. Efforts to locate her have been futile. The entire detective department is puzzled. The Pinkertons are mystified. Her whereabouts is a matter that interests detectives and the Pinkertons.

Mrs. Formby, in a recent interview to a reporter for The Constitution, told him that she had been made several offers of money to leave Atlanta until the Mary Phagan trial had been completed. She also openly announced that within a short while she intended leaving the city for New Mexico, in which state she said she intended to live.

Chief Determined to Find Her.

Chief Lanford says, however, that he will produce her at the trial of Leo M. Frank, and that she will be an important witness. He admits, though, even with this announcement, that he has not yet been able to find her.

“We were able to find the girl’s murderer,” says the chief, “and surely we will be able to locate Mrs. Formby.”

His theory is that the suspected superintendent, after deliberating over the crime the chief accuses him of having committed, communicated over the telephone with Mrs. Formby to obtain a room to which he could remove the body, thereby lessening the suspicion which would likely cling to himself if the corpse remained in the factory basement. Continue Reading →

Conley is Removed from Fulton Tower at His Own Request


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

Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, June 1st, 1913

Friends of Leo Frank Have Tried to Intimidate Him, Negro Sweeper Tells Detective Chief as Reason for His Transfer to the Police Station.


“He Appears to Be Placing Obstacles in Our Way,” Asserts Chief, in Speaking of Attempts to Interview the Suspected Superintendent. Mangum Denies Intimidation Attempts.

Chief of Detectives Newport Lanford is authority for the statement that James Conley, the negro floor sweeper of the National Pencil factory, who, in his latest affidavit, has admitted his complicity in the Mary Phagan murder, after the killing, but lays the crime at the door of Superintendent Leo M. Frank, was removed from Fulton county Tower to police barracks for imprisonment at his own request to put an end to the attempts of the friends of the superintendent to intimidate him.

Conley was carried to the police barracks Saturday afternoon after he had been removed from the Tower to the courthouse, where he was put through two hours of questioning by Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and his counsel, Attorney W. M. Smith.

Wanted to Avoid Frank’s Friends.

Chief of Detectives Lanford declared to a Constitution reporter last night that Conley had asked him to be taken away from the Tower to escape the harassments of the visitors of Leo Frank, declaring that they stopped at his cell and tried to make him drink liquor, and had tried to intimidate him by making jeering remarks to him and implying threats. Continue Reading →