Not Guilty: Thirty Six Actual Cases in Which
An Innocent Man Was Convicted
by Judge Jerome Frank and Barbara Frank

Edward Chalk

On the evening of May 12, 1936, two women residents of Reisterstown, Maryland, spotted two men loitering near a darkened home in the neighborhood. The loiterers, questioned by the suspicious women, gave evasive answers, after which they got into an automobile and drove away. The police, duly notified, stopped the car. However, the men inside the car beat the policemen to the draw. Taking the officers' revolvers, they escaped. The police found their abandoned automobile near the home of Edward Chalk, a filling-station attendant. He had a police record but had since gone straight. According to Chalk's photograph, taken from the rogues' gallery, he was one of the men who had disarmed the officers. After his arrest Chalk was identified in the flesh by those officers and by the two women who had originally notified the police. Chalk spent five months in jail awaiting trial, during which Joseph C. Martin confessed that he had driven the holdup car. Martin also stated that Chalk had not been his companion in the episode. Nevertheless Chalk was brought to trial and convicted. Pending consideration of Chalk's motion for a new trial, the judge suspended sentence. The police finally turned up Martin's accomplice, and Chalk was released.


1. Baltimore Sun, September 20, 1936, p. 24.