CourtSpeak: Frank v. Mangum Death-Penalty Conviction Case (1915)

Criminal Justice Read more from
Chapter The White Court (1910–21)

Justice Mahlon Pitney (majority): “The Georgia courts, in the present case, proceeded upon the theory that Frank would have been entitled to this relief had his charges been true, and they refused a new trial only because they found his charges untrue save in a few minor particulars not amounting to more than irregularities, and not prejudicial to the accused. There was here no denial of due process.”

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (dissenting): “We do not think it impracticable in any part of this country to have trials free from outside control. But to maintain this immunity it may be necessary that the supremacy of the law and of the Federal Constitution should be vindicated in a case like this. It may be that on a hearing a different complexion would be given to the judge’s alleged request and expression of fear. But supposing the alleged facts to be true, we are of opinion that if they were before the supreme court, it sanctioned a situation upon which the courts of the United States should act; and if, for any reason, they were not before the supreme court, it is our duty to act upon them now, and to declare lynch law as little valid when practiced by a regularly drawn jury as when administered by one elected by a mob intent on death.”


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