Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles

Document Transcript

City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Mayor’s Court, 6 December 1842
 
Historical Introduction
On 6 December, Ira Miles swore a complaint before JS, accusing of using “Indecent Language and Behavior” against Miles “on or about” 3 December. Davis, a merchant and tavern keeper in , Illinois, had joined the church in 1840, but in 1842 his relationship with JS and the church deteriorated. In March JS brought charges against Davis for slandering his character and a jury found Davis guilty of violating Nauvoo’s vagrancy and disorderly persons ordinance. Between 29 November and 6 December 1842, Davis was accused of violating several city ordinances and was tried in five cases in Nauvoo courts. In each of these cases, JS participated as either mayor, justice of the peace, complainant, or witness.
Although Miles’s complaint on 6 December failed to identify a specific ordinance had violated, the docket entry indicated that the charge was “Disorderly Conduct.” The four subpoenaed witnesses had all testified at a 3 December trial about Davis’s use of abusive language toward JS, suggesting that the case arose out of Miles’ testimony on that occasion. Sometime following JS’s issue of the warrant and subpoena but before the trial began, Davis swore an affidavit before JS stating he believed that JS was prejudiced against him and could not render an impartial judgment. JS agreed to transfer the case to , who, as an alderman, also functioned as a justice in the municipal court. Presumably after the change in jurisdiction, Marks subpoenaed JS as a witness for the case. Rather than create a new subpoena, however, the court simply added JS’s name to the one that had already been served, which the city then served on JS separately. After hearing the evidence, Marks found Davis guilty and ordered him to pay a ten-dollar fine as well as court costs.
For other cases involving JS that were brought against around this time, see City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–B, City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C, City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Ardent Spirits, and City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Assault.
 
Calendar of Documents
This calendar lists all known documents created by or for the court, whether extant or not. It does not include versions of documents created for other purposes, though those versions may be listed in footnotes. In certain cases, especially in cases concerning unpaid debts, the originating document (promissory note, invoice, etc.) is listed here. Note that documents in the calendar are grouped with their originating court. Where a version of a document was subsequently filed with another court, that version is listed under both courts.

Footnotes

  1. 1

    “Good News from America,” Millennial Star, July 1840, 1:63.  

    Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star. Manchester, England, 1840–1842; Liverpool, 1842–1932; London, 1932–1970.

  2. 2

    See Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–A; and Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, An Ordinance Concerning Vagrants and Disorderly Persons, 13 Nov. 1841, 31. In September 1842 William Clayton recorded a rumor in JS’s journal that the posse attempting to arrest JS for extradition to Missouri had used Davis’s tavern as a base of operations. JS, Journal, 3 Sept. 1842.  

  3. 3

    For the other cases, see City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–B, City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C, City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Ardent Spirits, and City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Assault.  

  4. 4

    See Complaint, 29 Nov. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–B]; and Complaint, 30 Nov. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C].  

  5. 5

    See Complaint, 6 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles]; and Docket Entry, ca. 6 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles]. Like Miles, Hyrum Smith and Andrew Gravel had both testified at that earlier trial, while Lyman Johnson had acted as Davis’s defense attorney. (See Subpoena, 3 Dec. 1842–A [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C]; Subpoena, 3 Dec. 1842–B [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C]; and Docket Entry, between 30 Nov. and ca. 3 Dec 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of JS–C].)  

  6. 6

    In addition to charging Davis with slandering him in late November, JS had found Davis guilty of violating Nauvoo’s temperance ordinance at a 2 December trial. See Complaint, 1 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Ardent Spirits]; Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, An Ordinance in Relation to Temperance, 15 Feb. 1841, 8; and Docket Entry, ca. 2 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Ardent Spirits]. JS also convicted Davis on an assault charge on the morning of 6 December—the same day Davis was to stand trial in the Miles matter. See Complaint, 1 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Assault]; and Docket Entry, between 1 and ca. 6 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Assault].  

  7. 7

    See Affidavit, 6 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles]; and Docket Entry, ca. 6 Dec 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles]. Section 16 of the Nauvoo city charter made aldermen “conservators of the peace,” with “all the powers of Justices of the Peace.” James Sloan’s rough minutes for the trial initially record that the papers were handed to alderman Newel K. Whitney. Sloan then crossed out Whitney’s name and replaced it with Marks’s. (See Minutes, 6 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles]; and Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.)  

  8. 8

    See Subpoena, 6 Dec. 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles].  

  9. 9

    See Docket Entry, ca. 6 Dec 1842 [City of Nauvoo v. Davis for Slander of Miles]. Those convicted under the vagrants or disorderly persons ordinance were required to enter a bond to keep the peace for a “reasonable time” and could be further subject to forced labor for up to ninety days or a fine of up to five hundred dollars if their bond was violated. (Nauvoo City Council Minute Book, An Ordinance Concerning Vagrants and Disorderly Persons, 13 Nov. 1841, 31.)