Joseph Smith as a Judge

Following JS’s election as mayor of , Illinois, on 19 May 1842, he served as a judge in two courts in the city’s judicial system—the mayor’s court and the municipal court. According to the act incorporating the city of Nauvoo, also known as the , the mayor’s court held limited jurisdiction over alleged violations of state statutes, minor civil disputes, and breaches of city ordinances. The municipal court heard appeals from the mayor’s and city ’s courts and also issued writs of . Like most other local judges in the nineteenth century, JS lacked formal legal training. However, consistent with comparable lay magistrates, he was a well-respected member of his community, and he performed his duties by referencing state statutes, city ordinances, and legal treatises such as William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. He consulted with local attorneys and others well versed in the law, and he drew upon his own experiences with the legal system. Between his election as mayor and his death on 27 June 1844, JS presided over approximately sixty-five cases in the mayor’s court and twelve in the municipal court, totaling seventy-seven cases—more than one-third of the total number of cases he was involved in.
Records for only thirty-seven cases for which JS was the judge—twenty-five in the mayor’s court and twelve in the municipal court—are apparently extant. The gap in surviving documentation in the mayor’s court record coincides with the transition from to as the court’s clerk. Sloan served as clerk from July 1842 through February 1843, during which time JS presided over eighteen cases in the mayor’s court. Sloan recorded entries in the mayor’s court docket book and produced case files for each of them. Following the legislature’s disincorporation of in 1845, these court records were preserved with other city records by church clerks. Between Phelps’s February 1843 appointment as mayor’s court clerk and JS’s June 1844 death, JS heard approximately forty-seven cases. Documents for only seven of these cases are apparently extant. The remaining cases are known primarily from references in JS’s journal, as discussed herein.
By contrast, the records of the municipal court during JS’s tenure as chief justice were well preserved in a docket book and in case files, first by and then by his successor as municipal court clerk, .
 
Mayor’s Court: Criminal Cases
According to the charter, the mayor served as a , with limited jurisdiction over violations of state statutes that allegedly occurred within the city’s boundaries. Under law, justices of the peace could preside over trials for and similar crimes, with authority to make final determinations of guilt or innocence, but for most criminal offenses, justices were authorized only to hold preliminary examinations to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to send the case to the circuit court for trial. During his tenure as a justice of the peace, JS is known to have tried four defendants for violating state statutes. Docket entries and case files have survived for three of those cases, each heard during ’s tenure as clerk.
State of Illinois v. Olney, 10 February 1843
State of Illinois v. J. Thompson, 29 May 1843
 
Mayor’s Court: Civil Cases
The charter authorized the mayor, acting as a justice of the peace, to hear minor civil suits within the boundaries of the city, with powers defined by state laws. law granted justices authority to hear civil suits for unpaid debts not exceeding $100. In addition, justices heard cases dealing with personal property for damages not exceeding twenty dollars. Illinois law also permitted justices to adjudicate claims that individuals had unlawfully entered and occupied land. Appeals of decisions rendered by the mayor acting as a justice of the peace would be heard by the Hancock County Circuit Court. During his tenure as mayor, JS presided over approximately seventeen civil suits. Documents for eight civil cases are extant, four of which were heard during ’s tenure as clerk.
Parker v. Foster, 16 July 1842
Harwood v. A. Brown, 1 September 1842
Copeland v. A. Brown, 5 September 1842
Canfield v. Morey, 26 December 1842
Dana v. Brink, 10 March 1843
Webb v. E. Rigby and B. Rigby, 31 March 1843
Alford v. Gulley, 10 May 1843
Butterfield v. Mills, 17 August 1843
Mallery v. Pilkinton, 23 August 1843
Foster v. Easton, 5 September 1843
Dana v. Leeches, 26 September 1843
Meddagh v. Hovey, 26 September 1843
Flagg v. Unknown Party, 30 October 1843
Erskine v. Pullen, 15 November 1843
Averill v. Bostwick, 16 November 1843
Saunders v. Dixon, ca. 4 February 1844
 
Mayor’s Court: Violations of City Ordinances
The charter authorized the city council to pass ordinances that were deemed “necessary for the peace, benefit, good order, regulation, convenience, and cleanliness, of said city.” The charter specified that ordinances could not be “repugnant” to the constitution of the or of the state of . The mayor, along with the aldermen, operated courts that were tasked with prosecuting those accused of breaching the ordinances. During his time as judge of the mayor’s court, JS prosecuted approximately fifty people charged with violating city ordinances. Documents for fourteen of those cases—eleven heard during ’s tenure—are apparently extant.
City of Nauvoo v. Morgan and Taylor, 21 February 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Sherwood, 10 March 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Lower, 31 March 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Unknown Defendant–A, 27 April 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Gay, 3 May 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Bullard–A, 17 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Fizzacherly, 17 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Moeser, 21 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Wilkinson–A, 22 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Huxhan, 23 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Bullard–B, 23 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Hotchkissn, 29 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Derby, 29 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Miles, 29 August 1843
City of Nauvoo v. A. Dodge, S. Dodge, and Purtelow, 4 September 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Owen, 6 September 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Unknown Defendant–B, 18 September 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Unknown Defendant–C, 18 September 1843
City of Nauvoo v. Moore, 30 October 1843
City of Nauvoo v. R. White and E. White, 30 December 1843
City of Nauvoo v. T. Miller, Leach, Bridges, and Frodsham, 1 Jan. 1844
City of Nauvoo v. H. Dayton, 2 January 1844
City of Nauvoo v. L. Dayton, 2 January 1844
City of Nauvoo v. Wilkinson–B, 20 January 1844
City of Nauvoo v. Coates, 30 January 1844
City of Nauvoo v. Unknown Defendants, 8 February 1844
City of Nauvoo v. Withers, 9 February 1844
City of Nauvoo v. Bostwick, 26 February 1844
City of Nauvoo v. R. D. Foster–B, 26 April 1844
City of Nauvoo v. R. D. Foster–C, ca. 9 May 1844
 
Nauvoo Municipal Court: Habeas Corpus Proceedings
According to the charter, the Nauvoo Municipal Court was composed of the mayor as chief justice and the city aldermen as associate justices. The charter gave the municipal court “power to grant writs of habeas corpus in all cases arising under the ordinances of the City Council.” During JS’s tenure as chief justice, he presided over nine habeas corpus proceedings in the municipal court, each of which is attested in docket entries and extant case files.
 
Nauvoo Municipal Court: Appeals
According to the charter, the Nauvoo Municipal Court heard appeals “from any decision or judgment” rendered by the mayor’s or aldermen’s courts “arising under the city ordinances.” The charter also stated “that the parties litigant shall have a right to a trial by a Jury of twelve men, in all cases before the Municipal Court,” a provision that applied to appeals. During his tenure as chief justice, JS presided over three appeals, each of which is represented by docket entries and extant case files.
Brink v. Dana, 19 April 1843
  1. 1

    Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 19 May 1842, 81; Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; see also Bennett and Cope, “City on a Hill,” 25–26.  

    Bennett, Richard E. and Rachel Cope. “‘A City on a Hill’—Chartering the City of Nauvoo.” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal (2002): 17–42.

  2. 2

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; Friedman, History of American Law, 97; Edwards, People and Their Peace, 67–68, 80–81; see Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England.  

    Friedman, Lawrence M. A History of American Law. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.

    Edwards, Laura F. The People and Their Peace: Legal Culture and the Transformation of Inequality in the Post-revolutionary South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

    Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England: In Four Books; with an Analysis of the Work. By Sir William Blackstone, Knt. One of the Justices of the Court of Common Pleas. In Two Volumes, from the Eighteenth London Edition. . . . 2 vols. New York: W. E. Dean, 1840.

  3. 3

    The Nauvoo charter made no provision for a mayor’s court clerk. The city’s first mayor, John C. Bennett, recorded his own docket entries. In July 1842, when JS heard his first case in the mayor’s court, James Sloan—who served as Nauvoo city recorder and clerk of the Nauvoo Municipal Court—began functioning as de facto clerk of the mayor’s court. No record of his official appointment to the latter position is extant. On 14 January 1843, the Nauvoo City Council passed an ordinance that provided for a mayor’s court clerk and defined fees for the position. (Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; Nauvoo Mayor’s Court Docket Book, 12–27; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 3 Feb. 1841, 1–5; 14 Jan. 1843, 140–147; 11 Feb. 1843, 160–162; Docket Entry, ca. 5 July 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Rhodes].)  

    Nauvoo Mayor’s Court Docket Book / Nauvoo, IL, Mayor’s Court. Docket Book, 1843. In Historian’s Office, Historical Record Book, 1843–1874, pp. 12–50. CHL.

  4. 4

    Nauvoo Mayor’s Court Docket Book, 12–27; An Act to Repeal the Act Entitled “An Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo,” approved December 16, 1840 [29 Jan. 1845], Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 187–188; “Schedule of Church Records. Nauvoo 1846,” [1], Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL.  

    Nauvoo Mayor’s Court Docket Book / Nauvoo, IL, Mayor’s Court. Docket Book, 1843. In Historian’s Office, Historical Record Book, 1843–1874, pp. 12–50. CHL.

    Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Fourteenth General Assembly, at Their Regular Session, Began and Held at Springfield, December 2nd, 1844. Springfield, IL: Walters and Weber, 1845.

    Historian’s Office. Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904. CHL. CR 100 130.

  5. 5

    Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 11 Feb. 1843, 159.  

  6. 6

    There is evidence that Phelps, assisted by Willard Richards and at least one unidentified scribe, produced mayor’s court records during Phelps’s tenure, but only scattered documents have survived. On 27 April 1843, Richards wrote “See Mayors Docket” in JS’s journal, signaling the existence of either a docket book or perhaps loose notes with case information. Certified copies of docket entries for two cases, as well as loose documents for four other cases, are extant. (JS, Journal, 27 Apr. 1843; Docket Entry, 1–ca. 6 Apr. 1843 [M. F. Thompson v. F. Dixon and E. Dixon]; Docket Entry, 8–ca. 17 Aug. 1843 [Butterfield v. Mills]; Introduction to Dana v. Brink; Subpoena, 4 Feb. 1844 [Saunders v. Dixon]; Complaint, 9 Feb. 1844 [State of Illinois v. Withers]; Deposition, 26 Feb. 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. Bostwick]; Warrant for Arrest of Robert D. Foster, 9 May 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. R. D. Foster–C].)  

  7. 7

    Richards replaced Sloan as recorder and municipal court clerk on 12 August 1843. (Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 12 Aug. 1843, 186.)  

  8. 8

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840. Justices of the peace typically held countywide jurisdiction. (An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders, and for Other Purposes [6 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 237, sec. 1.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  9. 9

    An Act to Extend the Jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace [29 Dec. 1826], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 414–415, sec. 1; An Act to Amend “An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables,” Approved, 13 Feb. 1827 [23 Jan. 1829], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 421–422, sec. 12; An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders, and for Other Purposes [6 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 237–238, secs. 1, 3.  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  10. 10

    JS’s journal entry for 29 May 1843 indicated that Lucien Woodworth filed a complaint charging James Thompson with “assau[l]t.” After reviewing the evidence, JS “fin[e]d Thom[p]son $300.” The amount of the fine suggests that JS prosecuted Thompson under an Illinois statute rather than a city ordinance. Although a January 1843 Nauvoo ordinance criminalized assault, the maximum penalty in the event of conviction was $100. Under Illinois law, conviction for assault and battery also carried the maximum penalty of $100, but if the perpetrator used a deadly weapon, the maximum penalty increased to $1,000. (JS, Journal, 29 May 1843; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843; An Act to Extend the Jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace [29 Dec. 1826], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 414–415, sec. 1; An Act relative to Criminal Jurisprudence [6 Jan. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 206, sec. 52.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  11. 11

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.  

  12. 12

    Specifically, justices were permitted to hear common law actions of assumpsit and debt. (An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 402, sec. 1.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  13. 13

    Specifically, justices were permitted to hear common law actions of trespass on personal property as well as trover and conversion. (An Act Supplemental to the Act Entitled “An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables,” passed February 3d, 1827 [12 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 414.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  14. 14

    An Act concerning Forcible Entry and Detainer [2 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, pp. 313–314; An Act Amending an Act Entitled an Act concerning Forcible Entry and Detainer, Approved Feb. 2d, 1827 [28 Feb. 1837], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 314, sec. 1.  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  15. 15

    An Act concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 409, sec. 30–31.  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  16. 16

    On 30 March 1843, JS assisted Nauvoo alderman and justice of the peace George W. Harris in hearing a case of forcible entry and detainer between Chauncey Webb and presumably Edward and Barnard Rigby. The circumstances behind this case are unclear, but Webb was likely claiming that the Rigbys were illegally occupying land in Nauvoo that he had purchased in December 1842. The trial lasted until the early morning hours of 31 March 1843. JS and Harris summoned a jury to decide the case; the verdict is unknown. However, attorney Onias Skinner was fined ten dollars for contempt of court after he insulted a witness, and JS threatened further fines against Skinner. Webb was apparently dissatisfied with the results of the trial or its aftermath, because in October 1843 he brought an action of ejectment against Edward and Barnard Rigby and in May 1846 the court ordered that Webb “have and recover” his property from the defendants. (JS, Journal, 30 Mar. 1843; Deed, Ethan Kimball to Chauncey Webb, 29 Dec. 1842; Docket Entry, Judgment, 16 Oct. 1843 [Webb v. E. Rigby and B. Rigby–B]; Docket Entry, Judgment, 23 May 1846 [Webb v. E. Rigby and B. Rigby–B].)  

  17. 17

    On 10 May 1843, JS presided over Alford v. Gulley. Aside from the surnames of the parties, nothing is known of this case. (JS, Journal, 10 May 1843.)  

  18. 18

    On 23 August 1843, JS presided over “Mrs Mallery vs Pilkinton.” The issues of the case are unknown, although JS held that one of the parties should pay forty-five dollars and costs. (JS, Journal, 23 Aug. 1843.)  

  19. 19

    On 5 September 1843, JS presided over Foster v. Easton. Neither the dispute nor the given names of the parties are known. JS adjourned the case until the following week, but there is no indication that it was heard. (JS, Journal, 5 Sept. 1843.)  

  20. 20

    On 26 September 1843, JS “tried a case of Dana vs Leeches.” Aside from the surnames of the parties, nothing is known of the dispute. JS held that there was “no caus[e] of action.” (JS, Journal, 26 Sept. 1843.)  

  21. 21

    On 26 September 1843, JS presided over Meddagh v. Hovey. Neither the dispute nor the outcome is known. (JS, Journal, 26 Sept. 1843.)  

  22. 22

    On 30 October 1843, JS presided over a suit between a “Bro Flagg” and an unidentified party. The dispute is unknown. The “parties agre[e]d to leave it to Bro Flagg and he remited.” (JS, Journal, 30 Oct. 1843.)  

  23. 23

    On 15 November 1843, JS presided over Erskine v. Pullen. The dispute is unknown, but the case ended in a nonsuit. (JS, Journal, 15 Nov. 1843.)  

  24. 24

    On 16 November 1843, JS presided over Averill v. Bostwick, presumably Orsamus Bostwick. Neither the dispute nor the outcome is known. (JS, Journal, 16 Nov. 1843.)  

  25. 25

    Although section 17 of the charter stated that the mayor had “exclusive jurisdiction in all cases arising under the ordinances,” subsequent language in the section indicated that the Nauvoo Municipal Court could hear appeals “from any decision or judgment of said Mayor or Aldermen,” implying that the aldermen also had jurisdiction over alleged breaches of city ordinances. Two surviving legal documents produced by alderman Daniel H. Wells confirm that he operated a court with jurisdiction over alleged breaches of city ordinances. (Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; Complaint, 1 Apr. 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. C. L. Higbee–B]; Docket Entry, 1 Apr. 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. C. L. Higbee–B]; see also Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 30; and Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 14 Jan. 1843, 141–146.)  

  26. 26

    A 21 February 1843 entry in JS’s journal indicated that JS presided over City of Nauvoo v. Morgan and Taylor, a case involving two Latter-day Saint teenagers who were accused of stealing books from Arthur Millikin. Robert Taylor pleaded guilty to stealing the books, and Thomas Morgan pleaded guilty to receiving the stolen property. Although JS had evidently tried two previous cases under the Illinois larceny statute, he instead decided to prosecute Morgan and Taylor under Nauvoo’s vagrancy and disorderly persons ordinance. JS convicted the youths and sentenced them to six months’ imprisonment in the Hancock County jail in Carthage, Illinois. However, in response to a petition from Nauvoo citizens, on 1 March 1843 JS changed the punishment to labor on the city’s roads. (JS, Journal, 19–21 Feb. 1843; “Commitments,” Wasp, 22 Feb. 1843, [2]; History Draft [1 Mar.–31 Dec. 1843], 1 Mar. 1843; Introduction to State of Illinois v. D. Brown and Edwards; Introduction to State of Illinois v. Olney; see also Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 31.)  

    The Wasp. Nauvoo, IL. Apr. 1842–Apr. 1843.

  27. 27

    JS’s journal entry for 10 March 1843 indicated that fourteen-year-old Daniel Sherwood was accused of stealing George Nelson’s watch. JS found “No positive testimony” against the boy and released him into the custody of his father, Henry G. Sherwood, with instructions that Henry could discipline Daniel if he found evidence for the theft. The journal entry does not specify whether JS tried Daniel Sherwood under the Illinois larceny statute or a city ordinance, although JS may have charged him with violating the disorderly persons ordinance, as he did in City of Nauvoo v. Morgan and Taylor, a February 1843 case involving two Latter-day Saint youths who were similarly accused of stealing. (JS, Journal, 10 Mar. 1843; Presiding Bishopric, Minutes, 59; “Commitments,” Wasp, 22 Feb. 1843, [2].)  

    Presiding Bishopric. Minutes, Mar. 1841–Jan. 1851. CHL. CR 4 122

    The Wasp. Nauvoo, IL. Apr. 1842–Apr. 1843.

  28. 28

    On 31 March 1843, JS prosecuted an Amos Lower “for assau[l]ting John H. Burghardt.” After hearing testimony, JS fined Lower ten dollars. No other details regarding the case are known. Although Illinois law gave JS as a justice of the peace jurisdiction over assault, he presumably charged Lower under a January 1843 Nauvoo ordinance that prohibited assault and provided for a fine between three and one hundred dollars or imprisonment up to six months. (JS, Journal 31 Mar. 1843; An Act to Extend the Jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace [29 Dec. 1826], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 415, sec. 1; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  29. 29

    On 27 April 1843, JS presided over a trial in the mayor’s court for horse stealing. Willard Richards’s entry in JS’s journal provided few details, other than noting “Johnathan Ford. proved a Stolen horse.” It is unclear whether Ford was the owner of the horse or the defendant. Richards also referred to the “Mayors Docket,” which has not been located. The journal entry does not specify whether JS tried the case under the Illinois larceny statute or a city ordinance, although JS may have charged the defendant with violating the disorderly persons ordinance, as he did in City of Nauvoo v. Morgan and Taylor, a February 1843 case involving two Latter-day Saint youths who were similarly accused of stealing. (JS, Journal, 27 Apr. 1843.)  

  30. 30

    On 3 May 1843, JS presided over “City vs A. Gay,” presumably referring to Alfred Gay, although Willard Richards rendered the surname as “Day” in his personal journal. William Law had filed a complaint alleging that Gay used “unbecoming Language” and that he had refused “to leave store. when Law told him to. leave.” JS “fin[e]d [Gay] $5, & costs.” JS presumably prosecuted Gay under the January 1843 ordinance that prohibited “any abusive, indecent, or threatening words,” with conviction bringing a fine between one and twenty dollars. (JS, Journal, 3 May 1843; Richards, Journal, 3 May 1843; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

    Richards, Willard. Journals, 1836–1853. Willard Richards, Papers, 1821–1854. CHL. MS 1490, boxes 1–2.

  31. 31

    On 31 July 1843, “Newell N[o]urse calld to get Joel Bullard confi[n]ed. he is threat[en]ing drinking— & probably delerious at first.” JS apparently took no action against Bullard at that time, but on 17 August 1843 JS “commen[ce]d a suiet [suit]. Nauvoo vs Joel Bulla[r]d.” Willard Richards noted in JS’s journal that he “finshd [finished] trying bullads [Bullard’s] case,” but provided no details regarding the charge or the decision. (JS, Journal, 31 July and 17 Aug. 1843.)  

  32. 32

    On 17 August 1843, JS “tried a case Nauvoo. vs John Fizzacherly.” In his account book, marshal Henry G. Sherwood noted on 17–18 August, “to charge & trouble John Frizackley 1,” which may refer to keeping the defendant in custody overnight. Nothing else is known of the case. (JS, Journal, 17 Aug. 1843; Sherwood, Record Book, 17–18 Aug. 1843.)  

    Sherwood, Henry G. Record Book, ca. 1838–1844. CHL.

  33. 33

    On 21 August 1843, JS presided over “Nauvoo vs Frederic J. Mosseur [Frederick H. Moeser].” Richards noted in JS’s journal that Moeser, a Nauvoo grocer, had violated the city’s temperance ordinance, which prohibited selling liquor in small quantities. Conviction could result in a fine up to twenty-five dollars; JS fined Moeser three dollars plus costs. (JS, Journal, 21 Aug. 1843; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 15 Feb. 1841, 8.)  

  34. 34

    On 22 August 1843, JS tried Stephen Wilkinson for violating the Nauvoo temperance ordinance, which prohibited selling liquor in small quantities. Conviction could result in a fine up to twenty-five dollars. After Wilkinson confessed, JS fined him three dollars. (JS, Journal, 22 Aug. 1843; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 15 Feb. 1841, 8.)  

  35. 35

    On 23 August 1843, JS tried Mary Huxhan for violating the Nauvoo temperance ordinance, which prohibited selling liquor in small quantities. Conviction could result in a fine up to twenty-five dollars. After Huxhan confessed, JS fined her three dollars. (JS, Journal, 23 Aug. 1843; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 15 Feb. 1841, 8.)  

  36. 36

    On 23 August 1843, JS heard “City vs Joel Bullard,” a case in which Bullard was charged with larceny. Bullard had also appeared before JS on an unknown charge on 17 August. In the larceny case, JS may have charged Bullard with violating the disorderly persons ordinance, as he did in City of Nauvoo v. Morgan and Taylor, a February 1843 case involving two Latter-day Saint youths who were similarly accused of stealing. After reviewing the evidence, JS held that there was “no cause of action.” In October 1843, Bullard was imprisoned, apparently by Nauvoo city authorities. After obtaining a writ of habeas corpus from the Hancock County Circuit Court, he was released from custody. It is unknown if his imprisonment was related to the earlier proceedings before JS. (JS, Journal, 17 and 23 Aug. 1843; Docket Entry, Habeas Corpus, 16 Oct. 1843 [City of Nauvoo v. Bullard on Habeas Corpus]; Docket Entry, Discharge, 17 Oct. 1843 [City of Nauvoo v. Bullard on Habeas Corpus].)  

  37. 37

    During the morning on 29 August 1843, JS tried a “Hotchkissn” on unknown charges. JS found “no cause of action.” (JS, Journal, 29 Aug. 1843.)  

  38. 38

    During the afternoon or evening on 29 August 1843, JS presided over “city vs— Erastus H. Derby” on an unknown charge. JS bound Derby to “keep th[e] peacee 6 months,” perhaps under a January 1843 ordinance that defined “abusive, indecent, or threatening words” as a disturbance of the peace. (JS, Journal, 29 Aug. 1843; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  39. 39

    During the afternoon or evening of 29 August 1843, JS presided over “Nauvo[o] vs Ira. Miles,” who was evidently accused of swearing. Miles may have been charged under the 1841 disorderly persons ordinance, which prohibited “Profane or indecent language,” with conviction bringing a fine up to $500. Alternatively, he could have been charged under a January 1843 ordinance that banned “abusive, indecent, or threatening words” as a disturbance of the peace, with conviction bringing a fine up to twenty dollars. JS fined Miles five dollars. (JS, Journal, 29 Aug. 1843; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 31; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  40. 40

    On 4 September 1843, JS presided over “Nauvoo) vs.— A[ugustus] Dodge. S[eth] Dodge & Luther & Luther Purtelow.” It is unknown what ordinance the defendants were accused of violating. JS fined the Dodges five dollars each and Purtelow one dollar and costs. (JS, Journal, 4 Sept. 1843.)  

  41. 41

    On 6 September 1843, JS heard “Nauvoo vs Joseph Owen.” Neither the charge nor the outcome of the case is known. (JS, Journal, 6 Sept. 1843.)  

  42. 42

    On 18 September 1843, JS presided over the city’s prosecution against a “Musie,” perhaps Samuel Musick. Although the charge is unknown, the case ended in a “Nonsuit.” (JS, Journal, 18 Sept. 1843.)  

  43. 43

    On 18 September 1843, JS prosecuted a “brinks,” possibly William Brink. Although the charge is unknown, JS fined the defendant three dollars. (JS, Journal, 18 Sept. 1843.)  

  44. 44

    On 30 October 1843, JS issued a warrant for the arrest of “Moore for breech of ordnanc [ordinance].” The following day, Moore appeared in court and JS fined him five dollars. (JS, Journal, 30–31 Oct. 1843.)  

  45. 45

    On 30 December 1843, JS presided over the prosecution of “2 Boys Roswell & Evander White,” sons of Latter-day Saint Rebecca White. Martin Miller accused the boys of “stealing 6 hens & Rooster” from a “Brother Johnson.” JS sentenced them to “pay for the hens & 10 days each hard labor on the road.” JS may have charged them with violating the disorderly persons ordinance, as he did in City of Nauvoo v. Morgan and Taylor, a February 1843 case involving two Latter-day Saint youths who were similarly accused of stealing. (JS, Journal, 30 Dec. 1843; Nauvoo Ninth Ward, Nauvoo Stake, Bishop’s Council Decision, 26 Mar. 1844, CHL.)  

    Nauvoo Ninth Ward, Nauvoo Stake. Bishop’s Council Decision, Mar. 1844. CHL. LR 3501 22

  46. 46

    On 1 January 1844, Nauvoo policemen detained Nauvoo residents Thomas Miller, James Leach, James Bridges, and John Frodsham “for disorderly conduct.” They were presumably charged under an 1841 ordinance defining disorderly conduct or a January 1843 ordinance that prohibited public disturbances and disturbing the peace. JS fined Miller five dollars and costs and then discharged the other defendants. (JS, Journal, 1 Jan. 1844; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 31; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  47. 47

    On 2 January 1844, JS presided over the trial of Hiram Dayton “for disorderly conduct. in resisting & abusing the police in their duty.” Dayton may have been charged under an 1841 ordinance that prohibited “indecent, impertinent, or unbecoming language towards any City officer when in the discharge of his duty, or of menacing, threatening, or otherwise obstructing, said officer.” JS found Dayton guilty and fined him twenty-five dollars and costs. (JS, Journal, 2 Jan. 1844; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 31; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  48. 48

    After JS’s conviction of Hiram Dayton for “abusing the police in their duty” on 2 January 1844, JS tried Hiram’s son Lysander Dayton for the same offense. JS presumably charged the Daytons under an 1841 ordinance defining disorderly conduct or a January 1843 ordinance that prohibited public disturbances and disturbing the peace. JS convicted the younger Dayton and sentenced him to “10 days hard labor.” He subsequently added “10 days more on the public streets” to Dayton’s sentence for contempt of court. (JS, Journal, 2 Jan. 1844; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 13 Nov. 1841, 31; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  49. 49

    On 20 January 1844, JS tried Stephen Wilkinson for breaching an unspecified city ordinance. Although JS discharged him, Wilkinson was required to pay the costs of suit. JS had convicted Wilkinson on 22 August 1843 for violating Nauvoo’s temperance ordinance. (JS, Journal, 22 Aug. 1843 and 20 Jan. 1844; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 15 Feb. 1841, 8.)  

  50. 50

    On 30 January 1844, JS prosecuted Nauvoo resident Thomas Coates “for beating John Ellison.” JS presumably charged Coates under a January 1843 ordinance that prohibited “quarrelling, fighting, assaulting, [or] beating” another person. JS fined Coates twenty-five dollars and assessed him the costs. (JS, Journal, 30 Jan. 1844; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  51. 51

    On 8 February 1844, JS tried “2 negroes,” neither of whom was identified in JS’s journal, for “trying to marry wh[i]te wom[e]n.” An Illinois statute defined attempted interracial marriages as felonies, meaning that under state law JS would have only had authority to hold a preliminary hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to send the case to the circuit court for trial. Instead, JS appears to have tried the men under an unspecified Nauvoo ordinance, as he convicted both men, fining one twenty-five dollars and the other five dollars. (JS, Journal, 8 Feb. 1844; An Act Respecting Free Negroes and Mullatoes, Servants, and Slaves [17 Jan. 1829], Public and General Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 507, sec. 3; An Act to Regulate the Apprehension of Offenders, and for Other Purposes [6 Jan. 1827], Public and General Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 238, sec. 3.)  

    The Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois: Containing All the Laws . . . Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at Their First Session, Commencing December 1, 1834, and Ending February 13, 1835; and at Their Second Session, Commencing December 7, 1835, and Ending January 18, 1836; and Those Passed by the Tenth General Assembly, at Their Session Commencing December 5, 1836, and Ending March 6, 1837; and at Their Special Session, Commencing July 10, and Ending July 22, 1837. . . . Compiled by Jonathan Young Scammon. Chicago: Stephen F. Gale, 1839.

  52. 52

    On 26 April 1844, Willard Richards filed a complaint before JS, alleging that Robert D. Foster had slandered Richards by accusing him of trying to seduce Foster’s wife, Sarah Phinney Foster. JS issued a warrant for Robert Foster, possibly for breaching a January 1843 ordinance that banned “abusive, indecent, or threatening words.” Foster was brought before JS on 27 and 29 April. Richards noted in JS’s journal that city attorney George Stiles was assisted by an “Esqr Noble— from Rock River” and attorney Shepherd Patrick of Dixon, Illinois. After Foster objected to JS’s jurisdiction over the case and complained of the informality of the proceedings, JS transferred the case to Nauvoo city alderman William Marks. The outcome of the case is unknown. (JS, Journal, 26–27 and 29 Apr. 1844; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843; Richards, Journal, 26–27 and 29 Apr. 1844.)  

    Richards, Willard. Journals, 1836–1853. Willard Richards, Papers, 1821–1854. CHL. MS 1490, boxes 1–2.

  53. 53

    Around 9 May 1844, Latter-day Saint Jonas Killmer filed a complaint before JS accusing Robert D. Foster, who had recently been excommunicated, of using threatening language and assaulting Killmer “With a Brick Bat.” Foster was presumably charged with violating a January 1843 ordinance that prohibited both “abusive” language and assault. A warrant was drafted for Foster’s arrest, but it is unknown whether it was served or if further legal action was taken against Foster. (Warrant for Arrest of Robert D. Foster, 9 May 1844 [City of Nauvoo v. R. D. Foster–C]; JS, Journal, 18 Apr. 1844; Ordinances, 30 Jan. 1843.)  

  54. 54

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840; see also “The Nauvoo Municipal Court and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.”  

  55. 55

    Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840. The Nauvoo charter did not explicitly grant the municipal court original jurisdiction over alleged breaches of city ordinances. However, beginning in 1841 the Nauvoo City Council began passing ordinances that granted concurrent jurisdiction to the mayor and the municipal court. Although JS filed complaints with the municipal court, he did not preside over any such cases. (See Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, 15 Feb. 1841, 8; 1 Mar. 1841, 12–13; 13 Nov. 1841, 31; Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–B and City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C; and Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Hunter.)