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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.”

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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)

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.” (more…)

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