Will Not Indict Jim Conley Now, Jury’s Decision

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

The Atlanta Journal

Monday, July 21, 1913

Solicitor Dorsey Makes Brief Announcement to This Effect After Grand Jury Session Lasting Over an Hour


Solicitor Dorsey Will Now Concentrate Efforts Against Having Frank Jury Drawing From Grand Jury List

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey has for a second time blocked an attempt by members of the grand jury to indict James Conley, the negro sweeper, who confessed complicity in the Mary Phagan murder.

The grand jurymen who had called a meeting over the protest of the solicitor to consider taking up a bill against the negro listened to the prosecuting official for more than an hour Monday morning, and then authorized him to announce that the matter will not be taken up at this time.


The solicitor wrote out his statement, which is as follows:

“I am authorized by the grand jury to say, first that no action will be taken at this time on the James Conley matter; second, that the grand jury will not pay any attention whatever to anonymous communications.”

The solicitor would not explain or amplify the statement in any way, but it is naturally supposed that the grand jury has decided not to take up the Conley matter until after the trial of Leo M. Frank, giving the solicitor a clear victory.


There were eighteen members of the grand jury, a quorum, present when the meeting was called to order by Foreman W.D. Beatie. The solicitor was asked to remain in the room, when the meeting opened, and he did not leave it until the meeting adjourned more than one hour later, and the presumption is natural that he took part in the discussion of the case.

The solicitor had previously announced his position in the matter, declaring that the indictment of Conley at this time would be a serious mistake, and saying that it would have “a mild but undesirable” effect on the state’s case against Leo M. Frank.

Just why the solicitor should have seen fit to add to his announcement the statement about anonymous communications also remains unexplained. It has been known that the Phagan mystery from the first has called forth many anonymous letters. The city detectives, the counsel for the defense, the solicitor, the past and the present grand juries have been flooded with them.

The solicitor’s statement might lead to the inference that the “public sentiment” which worked on the grand jurors until they called the meeting, was of the anonyous [sic] communication sort.


From the length of time during which the solicitor was before the grand jury it is apparent that it was not without difficulty that he persuaded the members of the body to let the Conley matter alone until after the Frank trial.

It is reported that the solicitor quoted many laws to the grand jury to strengthen his position in the matter, and an interesting decision on the point involved which appears in the 102 Georgia reports, page 271, was quoted in full.

Dealing with the case of Hix against Brantley, the supreme court in the decision says: “He (the solicitor general) is to determine whether or not to commence a particular prosecution or to discontinue one already begun. The solicitor general draws the bill of indictment, and examines the witnesses, not with a view to the interest of any client, but alone to subserve the public justice. The whole proceeding from the time the case is laid before him, is under his direction, supervision and control.”

No other meeting of the grand jury has been called and it is probable that none will be until after July 28, when the case against Frank is set for trial.


The solicitor general’s next fight is the famous murder case will come next Thursday, when he will oppose the motion of counsel for the defense of Frank[…]

(Continued On Page 7, Col. 1.)


(Continued From Page 1.)

[…]that the veniremen, from whom the twelve jurors to try Frank will be chosen, he [sic] drawn from the grand jury list instead of the petit jury list. The Fulton county grand jury list contains approximately 1,000 names, while the petit jury list has more than 6,000 names on it.

The solicitor has made it known that he will vigorously oppose the motion. The drawing of the veniremen from the grand jury list would be unusual and there is no instance of it ever having been done in this country, it is said. As yet, however, no law against the move has been advanced.

Conley Carried to Carter Street and Electric Ave.

Jim Conley was carried away from police headquarters in Chief Beavers’ automobile about 11:30 o’clock Monday morning by Detectives Starnes and Campbell, who are working directly under the solicitor general.

The negro was returned to his cell within half an hour.

The explanation of the trip given by Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford was that Conley was carried to the corner of Electric avenue and Carter street in order that all of the residents there might see him, and, if possible, identify him as a man seen in dispute with a white man about the day of the Phagan murder. He was not identified.

* * *

The Atlanta Journal, July 21st 1913, “Will Not Indict Jim Conley Now, Jury’s Decision,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)