Injustice Kills Another Jew Essay, Research Paper
Injustice kills another Jew
Leo Frank in the article “The Fate of Leo Frank” by Leonard Dinnerstein did
not receive a fair trial. I believe that the ghost of Leo Frank should haunt forever
the families of those who convicted and lynched him. Prejudice convicted Leo
Frank, not the evidence presented at his trial.
In July, 1913, Leo Frank, a Georgian pencil manufacturing company
co-owner and manager, was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Mary
Phangan, a thirteen year old girl from Marietta, Georgia employed in Frank’s
Phagan was on her way to the Confederacy Memorial Day parade when she
stopped by the factory to collect her wages. She did not arrive at the parade. The
next series of events took four weeks to try in the Georgia courts.
The principle witness at Frank’s trial was Jim Conley, a janitor at the pencil
factory. Prior to the trial, Conley gave four affidavits. With each he changed his
story. Conley bore witness at the trial of Frank’s indiscretions with his female
employees. He also wrote notes that incriminated himself, allegedly at the direction
of Frank. His testimony was always inconsistent and his performance on the
witness stand appeared coached. Everything about this black man seemed
Other forces working against Frank were his own lawyers. Luther Z. Rosser
and Ruben R. Arnold were supposedly two of the best attorneys of the day,
comparable to Johnny Cochran of the O.J. Simpson trial fame. Rosser and Arnold,
I believe, did not defend Frank to the best of their ability. By not taking advantage
of the great number of inconsistencies in the evidence presented by the prosecution
they allowed facts to go unclarified. They did not use evidence collected by the
police investigation which could have conveyed that necessary shadow of doubt to
the jury. They did not ask for a change of venue for a trial which was, before it
even convened, being tried in the local papers.
The greatest and most decisive of the forces working against Frank was
prejudice. Frank was from New York, an industrialist, and a Jew. Any of these
prejudices in the south in the year nineteen-thirteen was bad enough. But the
combination of the three proved lethal to Leo Frank. He was failed by the system,
and lynched by a mob that was angered that the Governor of Georgia commuted
Frank s sentence. Christians in Georgia were prejudiced against the Jewish people
because the Jews had killed their king nineteen hundred years earlier. The citizens
of Atlanta were prejudiced against an industrialist because factories and industry
would undermine the southern agrarian way of life.
Leo Frank was convicted and was serving his time on a farm detail when
word of his sentence commutation was let out. A group of locals raided the farm
and drove Frank to Marietta where they lynched him. His attackers were never
identified, though the local community more than likely could have named them.
This is the injustice Frank received.
Prejudice was, I believe, the deciding factor in the case of Leo Frank. And as long
as there is prejudice in the state and local governments there will always be a Leo
Frank being sacrificed on the alter intolerance and bigotry.