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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Attorney for Conley Makes a Statement

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Sunday, July 20, 1913

“Not Necessary to Indict Negro to Close His Mouth,” Declares William Smith.

William M. Smith, attorney for Jim Conley, the negro now being held as a material witness in the Phagan murder case and whose indictment for complicity in the crime will be considered by the Grand Jury Monday, brought to the office of The Sunday American Saturday night a statement in behalf of his client.

In a letter accompanying the statement, Mr. Smith conveyed a doubt as to whether this newspaper would print what he had to say.

The attorney’s statement in full follows:

The Grand Jury list published showed the names of some men whom I know, and know they are on the square, and, if they once understand the real situation, there will be a bear fight before Jim Conley is indicted at this time.

Of course it would be great work, if the State could be forced to so indict Conley as to make his testimony legally inadmissible against Frank. What a beautiful technical advantage for the Grand Jury to work to close Conley’s mouth against Frank.

Code of Georgia, section 1035: “Confessions of conspirators. The confession of one joint offender or conspirator, made after the enterprise is ended, is admissible only against himself.”

How long would the good people of this county stand for such legal jugglery to save a brutal murderer from the gallows? It is right that both men shall talk. The Grand Jury can name Conley as a joint offender or conspirator, they can give him a “legal status,” which we have heard so much howl about for the last few days, and save Frank from the embarrassment of having to face Conley, even when he is tried. The Grand Jury may know more about what is legally proper to do in this matter than the men who have been playing this game for a living for years, but they had better move slow. We have been studying the principles underlying this fight for months, and they are fresh hands, just on the job for a few days.

It is not necessary to indict Conley to close his mouth. I can close it and help Frank to go free, and then Mr. Mincey and others of his type can be run off by the friends of Mr. Frank, and be inaccessible as witnesses when Conley is tried, and then Conley can go free. This could be done, but it won’t be. Unless they get me fired from my representation of Conley, and unless the Grand Jury fixes his “legal status” so he can’t swear, Conley will answer the roll call as a witness and tell the whole truth as he knows it. It is evident that a trade whereby Conley would close his mouth would be advantageous to both. With Mr. Mincey and others non est inventus, as I imagine they will be if they are not held after swearing, by some process, Conley could not possibly be convicted of murdering the girl himself, and with Frank free Conley could not even be indicted and punished as an accessory after the fact. Such a trade might even be made interesting to Conley’s lawyer, from a financial viewpoint. In fact, everybody but society and the administration of justice would be helped.

We are not looking for trades. Let everybody tell the whole truth, as they see it, and then let justice take its full course, unhampered by ringers or other influences, permeating either the grand or petit juries of this county. When this is done, the fiendish murder of Mary Phagan will be avenged and the civic conscience of our good people satisfied.


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The Atlanta Georgian, July 20th 1913, “Attorney for Conley Makes a Statement,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

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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Frank’s Lawyers Score Dorsey for His Stand

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Sunday, July 20, 1913

Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold Declare He Is Going Out of His Way to Dictate to the Grand Jury.


Grand Jury Will Meet at 10 O’Clock Monday Morning to Take Up Conley Case. Call Is Sent Out.

In reply to Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey’s statements in regard to the proposed indictment by the grand jury of James Conley, the negro who has confessed complicity in the murder of Mary Phagan, Attorneys Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser issued a statement Saturday afternoon in which they openly attacked the stand taken by the solicitor in protesting against the indictment of the negro.

That the solicitor is exceeding his legal functions as a state officer is one point that the lawyers defending Leo M. Frank make in their statement, and they also severely criticise the solicitor for his detective work in the Phagan murder.

The card also contains a reference to the statement made in The Constitution Saturday morning by Attorney William M. Smith, representing the negro Conley. The card of the Frank defense takes Attorney Smith to task for rushing to the aid of the solicitor.

Solicitor General Dorsey also issued a statement in which he declared that he no more believed that the grand jury, when it meets Monday, would indict James Conley than he believes that Judge J.T. Pendleton will accede to the request of Frank attorneys to draw the venire for the trial jury from the box containing names of grand jury veniremen.

Roan Out of City.

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Jury Is Determined to Consider a Bill Against Jim Conley

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

The Atlanta Journal

Saturday, July 19, 1913

Protest of Solicitor Fails to Stop Session to Consider Phagan Evidence on Monday


Solicitor Says Frank Defense Wants Jury to Try Him Drawn From the Grand Jury List

Grand Jurors Who Will Consider Conley’s Case

This is the Fulton county grand jury which has been called to meet Monday over the protest of the solicitor to take up the case of Jim Conley, the negro sweeper at the National Pencil factory:
W.D. Beatie, foreman.
T.C. Whitner.
John S. Spalding.
W.C. Carroll, East Point.
H.B. Ferguson.
Garnet McMillan, East Point.
Edward H. Inman.
A.W. Farlinger.
M.A. Fall.
Julius M. Skinner.
Oscar Elsas.
George Bancroft.
W.H. Glenn.
S.E. McConnell.
Thomas J. Buchanan.
Sameuel A. Carson.
Eugene Oberdorfer.
A.Q. Adams.
W.O. Stamps.
W.T. Ashford.

There are only twenty citizens on the grand jury which has been called to meet Monday by Foreman W.D. Beattie to consider indicting James Conley, the negro sweeper, for the murder of Mary Phagan.

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Grand Jury Meets to Indict Conley

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, July 19, 1913

Call Is Issued After Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey Had Flatly Refused Request of Foreman.

A call for the Fulton grand jury to meet at 10 o’clock Monday to take steps leading to the indictment of James Conley, the negro sweeper of the National Pencil factory who accuses Leo M. Frank, its superintendent, of the Mary Phagan murder was issued yesterday by Foreman W.D. Beatie [sic] after Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey had flatly refused the foreman’s request to call the meeting.

The move to indict Conley is wrong and should not be made, the solicitor told the grand jury foreman when discussing the matter with him and the call which went out was over the head of the state’s legal representative in Fulton county.

Smith Attacks Action

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Scott Believes Conley Innocent, Asserts Lanford

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Saturday, July 19, 1913

Chief’s Statement Follows the Publication of Report That Pinkertons Are Now of the Opinion Sweeper Is Guilty.


“Our Testimony in Case Will Be Fair and Impartial,” He Says—Grand Jury Called to Consider Indicting Conley.


Meeting of grand jury called to take steps leading to indictment of James Conley on the charge of murder, over protest of Solicitor General Hugh Dorsey, who declares that indictment of Conley will be useless procedure.

Reported on Friday that the Pinkertons have changed their opinion in case, and now believe Conley guilty of murder, and Leo M. Frank innocent.

Harry Scott, field manager of Pinkertons, is denied permission to see Conley in his cell and subject him to quiz, although always allowed this privilege in past.

“Scott told me he still believes Conley innocent and Frank guilty,” says Chief of Detectives Lanford. “Pinkertons will give fair and impartial testimony at coming trial,” Scott tells Constitution. “Whether it affects Frank or the negro is no concern of ours; we were employed to find the murderer.”

“Conley is dealing fairly with the state of Georgia,” says his attorney, William M. Smith, in making attack on action of the grand jury.

That Harry Scott, field manager for the Pinkertons, came to police headquarters yesterday afternoon immediately following the publication of a story to the effect that the Pinkertons now believed in Conley’s guilt, and declared that he still held to the theory that the negro was innocent and Frank guilty, was the assertion made by Newport Lanford, chief of detectives, last night.

“Scott told me,” said the chief last night, “that there was no truth in the article so far as he personally was concerned, and that he continued firm in the belief that Conley was innocent.

“He has maintained throughout the investigation that Frank is guilty, and that Conley had nothing more to do with the crime than the complicity to which he confessed. He came to me Friday especially to deny the story.

Why Scott Was Barred.

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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.

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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.


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.

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New Evidence in Phagan Case Found

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Wednesday, July 9, 1913

iGrl [sic] Called to Tell of Negro She Saw in Pencil Factory—Lee Stays in Jail.

A sensation in the Phagan murder mystery developed Wednesday afternoon when Solicitor Dorsey summoned Miss Mattie Smith under a special subpena to question her in regard to a negro she saw in the National Pencil Factory the morning of the Saturday that Mary Phagan was murdered.

Miss Smith told a Georgian reporter that she saw a negro there that morning and believed it was between 9 and 10 o’clock. She thought she might be asked to identify Conley. If she identifies the negro, it will disprove Conley’s statement that he did not go to the factory until after he had met Frank Saturday.

Judge W. D. Ellis Wednesday morning postponed indefinitely the hearing on the application for a writ of habeas corpus to liberate Newt Lee, material witness in the Phagan murder mystery.

The action came as a result of an agreement reached between Graham & Chappell, attorneys for Lee, and Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey. It is believed to mark the end of all efforts to gain the negro’s freedom before the trial of Leo M. Frank July 28.

The most unconcerned person in the courtroom was Newt Lee. He was brought before Judge Ellis by Deputy Sheriff Miner.

Lee is Unconcerned.

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Caught Drinking, Three Policemen Fired Off Force

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

The Atlanta Constitution

Wednesday, July 9, 1913

Three Officers Are Suspended for Ninety Days, and Two Exonerated and Their Pay for Lost Time Restored.


Mayor Intimated He Would Ask Charges Be Preferred Against Moon, Who Said He Drank to Secure Evidence.

The scandal in the police department which grew out of revelations that eight policemen visited the resort of Ola Bradley, a negress, at No. 129 Auburn street resulted in the dismissal of three, exoneration of two, and suspension of three for ninety days, by the police board, at 1:30 o’clock this morning.

The policemen discharged were Robert A. Wood, J. P. Born and E. C. Folds.

Patrolmen J. E. McDaniels and L. W. Evans, who were under charges for neglect of duty for failure to report the visits of their partners to the resort, were found not guilty and were restored to the ranks with pay for lost time during suspension.

Three Are Suspended.

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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 →

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 →

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.”

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The Atlanta Georgian, June 14th 1913, “Sheriff Mangum Near End, Says Lawyer Smith,” 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 →

Negro Conley May Face Frank Today

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

The Atlanta Constitution

June 13, 1913

Hearing Before Judge Roan Today Will Decide Whether Negro Will Be Sent to Tower.

Whether James Conley, the negro sweeper, who swears that Leo Frank got his aid in disposing of Mary Phagan’s body and made him write the notes found near her, will be held as a material witness in the county jail or turned free and re-arrested by detectives as a suspect and then kept at police station, is due to be decided at 10 o’clock on the hearing of the rule nisi before Judge L. S. Roan.

The question of Conley’s liberty is not at stake, as the solicitor as well as Attorney L. Z. Rosser, for Frank, and the negro’s own lawyer, W. M. Smith, have announced that they desire him held.

Judge Roan has reached the decision that the negro should be kept at the Tower, where it is claimed that he does not wish to stay, as he asserts that he was intimidated while spending one night there after swearing to writing the notes.

Frank’s attorneys desire that the negro be placed in the Tower where Frank, under indictment for the murder, and Newt Lee, held as a material witness, are now kept.

Frank May Face Negro.

It is possible the meeting between Frank and the negro sweeper, which detectives have urged for several weeks, will finally take place today when the rule nisi is heard, as Frank is one of those named to show cause why the negro should not be released and Solicitor Hugh Dorsey may demand that he appear in person.

Should the negro be quizzed in the presence of the man whom he accuses, his every action and look as he sees Frank’s eyes upon him will be followed closely by detectives and by the solicitor himself, and a crisis in the case may develop from the meeting.

While it is certain that Attorney Rosser will go as far as possible in his attempt to have the negro held in the custody of the state, which means his incarceration in the Tower and out of reach of the detectives, it is not believed that he will speak freely or show many of his reasons for his claim that Conley is the murderer.

It is known that the greatest wish of the attorney for Frank is to get Conley out of the hands of the detectives and on account of this it is possible that he will show his hand to a certain extent at today’s hearing.

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The Atlanta Constitution, June 13th 1913, “Negro Conley May Face Frank Today,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Conley’s Status in Phagan Case May Be Changed Wednesday

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

The Atlanta Journal

June 11, 1913

Petition Will Be Presented to Judge Roan by Solicitor Dorsey but Its Nature Is Not Made Known


Negro May Be Put Back in the Tower – Solicitor Dorsey Says: “I Am Trying to Run State’s Case Myself”

The report became current Wednesday afternoon shortly after 3 o’clock that the new development in the Phagan case would be a withdrawal by the state of its petition in court whereunder James Conley, the negro, is held as a material witness.

Shortly before 3 o’clock, William Smith, attorney for the negro, and Solicitor Dorsey appeared at the court house together, for this purpose, it was said.

Attorney Smith does not want the negro confined in the Fulton county jail, where he declares he was menaced during the one night that he spent there after his affidavit became public. There has been no insistence from Attorney Smith. It is said, that any damage whatever be made in the status of the negro.

As the result of the clash between the prosecution and the defense of Leo M. Frank, over James Conely, it is expected that the negro’s legal status will be changed in some way, probably Wednesday afternoon.

It is also barely possible that Conley will be indicted Thursday by the grand jury as an accessory after the fact of Mary Phagan’s murder, but this is not considered probable.

Conley is now at police headquarters, held by authority of an order from Judge L. S. Roan, of the criminal division of the superior court. Conley is held as a material witness in the case against Frank.

The negro sweeper was transferred soon after he made his sensational confession, charging Frank with being the principal in the Phagan murder, from police headquarters to the Tower, where he remained about twenty-four hours.

Then he was transferred again, on a superior court order, to police headquarters, his attorney, William M. Smith, consenting to the move.

The obvious reason for the transfer was to prevent the negro’s talking to interviewers, who are allowed into the jail if the prisoner has no objection to talking to them.

At police headquarters only the detective and sometimes the prisoners lawyer, is allowed to see him.

Conley’s attorney, William M. Smith, stated Wednesday that he would prefer for the negro to be incerated at police headquarters rather than at the tower. Continue Reading →