Cris Shepley

Leo Frank’s attorney, a Southern “Good Old Boy” who comes off as rather pompous and ineffectual.

Luther Zeigler Rosser was known as “the best lawyer money could buy in all the state of Georgia”.

Luther Rosser

Luther Rosser

Steve Oney said of him …

His lead attorney, Luther Rosser, was one of the best lawyers in Atlanta. But he was a bully who believed he could run over anyone who got in his way, especially a black man like Conley but Rosser ended up getting caught in the brier patch.

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.The first impression one got from him when he entered the courtroom was a man of undeniable presence. Rosser was an old and dapper patrician gentleman, clean-cut, tall for the era and stout, with intensely penetrating eyes. He was a barrel chested man with a deep basso voice to match. Donned in an exquisite white silk suit and hat, he hobbled into court perched on the end of a wooden hook cane. Once he removed his hat, one could not help but look upon his big bald round head with a handsome pug-nosed “mafia boss” face. His most prominent feature however, were his no nonsense shark eyes, beneath bushy low eyebrows.

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When all was said and done, it was his adroit examination skills in the court room that impressed most – rhetorical examination skills that gave rise to the high hopes for an eventual jury acquittal, from the friends, family and close associates of Leo Frank, including the greater Jewish community routing for one of their own extended tribal kinsmen who was a high profile member of Jewish Society.

Luther Z. Rosser was a virtuoso at corrosive cross examination, breaking down and discrediting witnesses with his rapid-fire, thunder-hammering and circular questioning but he could not break Jim Conley. Conley stuck to his story and this ultimately condemned Leo Frank to death.

Rosser said of Conley in his summing up:

Conley is a plain, beastly, drunken, filthy, lying nigger with a spreading nose through which probably tons of cocaine have probably been sniffed.

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