Fyke Farmer

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Fyke Farmer
Born (1901-11-25)November 25, 1901
Died May 23, 1997(1997-05-23) (aged 95)
Known for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Spouse(s) Fanny Richards Leake
Children Dorothy Leake Farmer, Mary Sue Farmer Saltsman, Anne Farmer Erwin, Fyke Farmer Jr.

Fyke Farmer (November 25, 1901 – May 23, 1997), was a Tennessee lawyer who worked on the behalf of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.[1]


He was born on November 25, 1901 in Tennessee. He married Fanny Richards Leake, daughter of Charles Richards Leake. They had a daughter, Dorothy Leake Farmer.[2][3]

Farmer argued that the Rosenbergs were tried under the wrong law, claiming that the Atomic Energy Act, under which a sentence of death can be imposed only upon recommendation of a jury, should have been applied rather than the Espionage Act of 1917, which leaves that power exclusively to the discretion of the court. On the basis of Farmer's arguments, a temporary stay was granted to the Rosenbergs by Justice William O. Douglas on 17 June 1953. The United States Supreme Court vacated Douglas's stay by a vote of 6-3. The Rosenbergs were executed on 19 June 1953. In 1990, Farmer filed "United States ex rel. Farmer v. Kaufman" against Irving R. Kaufman, the judge who presided over the Rosenbergs' trial. His papers are archived at the Library of Congress.[4]


  1. ^ "Nashville now and then: A lawyer's last gamble". NashvillePost.com. 2007-06-17. Retrieved 2007-08-08. Farmer, working at no charge against the opposition of not only the government but also the Rosenbergs' legal team, had showed up at Douglas's chambers without an appointment, on the day after the high court adjourned for the term. Farmer convinced the jurist that the Rosenbergs had been tried under an invalid law. If they could be charged with any crime, he asserted, it would have to be a violation of the Atomic Energy Act, which did not carry a death penalty, rather than the Espionage Act of 1917. 
  2. ^ "Farmer - Bush". New York Times. April 5, 1959. Announcement has been made by Mr. and Mrs. Fyke Farmer of the engagement of their daughter, Miss Dorothy Leake Farmer of New York, to John Bush, ... 
  3. ^ "Farmer - Leake". New York Times. November 15, 1928. Miss Fanny Richards Leake, daughter of Charles Richards Leake of 359 West End Avenue, was married to Fyke Farmer of Nashville, Tenn., son of Mr. and Mrs. ... 
  4. ^ "Fyke Farmer Papers". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2008-08-01.