Trial of Five Charged with Bombing of Synagogue Opens in Atlanta

An anti-Semitic skirmish over jury selection today marked the opening of the Superior Court trial of five men charged with bombing the Jewish Temple here last October 12.

The five accused are Waliace H. Allen, George A. Bright, Kenneth Griffin, Robert Bowling, and Richard Bowling. They have been held without bond since their indictment for the bombings last October.

Defense attorneys today sought by subpoena action to obtain a complete membership list of B’nai B’rith in Georgia on the grounds that it would aid them in challenging prospective jurors. The move was apparently aimed at disqualifying Jews from service on the jury.

Judge Durwood T. Pye ruled against the defense attorneys on the ground that their subpoena did not name the B’nai B’rith. The attorneys had asked for the Georgia membership of the Anti-Defamation League. Arthur J. Levin, ADL southeastern director, took the stand to explain that the ADL has only one member in Georgia, whom he identified as Abe Goldstein. Mr. Levin agreed to supply the names of all ADL officers and employes in Georgia.

Attorney James R. Venable asked Mr. Levin if the ADL had not contributed $500 to a reward for the arrest and conviction of the synagogue bombers. Mr. Levin explained that the ADL had not, but B’nai B’rith had. He sought to clarify the relationship of the ADL and its parent organization, B’nai B’rith, as the defense attorneys sought to equate the two.

The anti-Semitism of defense attorneys was such that Judge Pye was prompted to declare that the Jewish people as a group were not on trial but five non-Jews accused of terrorism. This observation rebuffing defense attorneys was prompted by defense attorney Venable’s allegation that B’nai B’rith and the ADL “are interlocked and owned and operated by the Jewish race.”

A defense motion to quash indictments of the five accused men was overruled by Judge Pye. The judge pointed out that defense attorneys contended, in effect, state law provides “open season” on synagogues for bombers.

Judge Pye held that Georgia law providing a death penalty in some bombings applied in the current case against the five accused. He thus made known that he considered the crimes charged of such gravity that he could impose death sentences.

Defense attorneys had claimed that the indictments were void because state statutes do not specifically mention houses of worship among buildings protected by the law against bombing. Judge Pye interpreted the law as including churches and synagogues. It was at that point he noted that defense counsel was alleging the law provided “open season” on houses of worship.

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