Introduction to Dana v. Brink

Document Transcript

Dana v. Brink
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Mayor’s Court, 10 March 1843
 
Brink v. Dana
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Municipal Court, 19 April 1843
 
Dana v. Brink
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 27 May 1844
 
Dana v. Brink, Ball, and M. Smith
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 23 October 1844
 
Historical Introduction
On 2 and 3 March 1843, JS presided as a justice of the peace in the , Illinois, mayor’s court over Dana v. Brink, a breach of contract suit resulting from a local physician’s malfeasance. The case grew out of events that occurred on 22–24 October 1842, when Thomsonian physician was called to the home of to treat her for fever and diarrhea. After arriving, Brink incorrectly concluded that Dana, who was pregnant, had miscarried. In order to induce labor, Brink administered an enema of cayenne pepper and performed an invasive examination. On 24 October, Dana delivered a healthy baby with the assistance of midwife , but because of Brink’s treatment, Dana reported persistent back pain and incontinence.
In February 1843, , ’s husband, initiated a civil lawsuit before JS on a plea of assumpsit, or breach of contract, seeking $99 in damages. Attorneys and represented Dana, while retained the services of and . At the trial on 2–3 March, JS heard testimony from witnesses who described Brink’s treatment of Margaret Dana. Due to the common-law doctrine of coverture, married women in the nineteenth century normally were not permitted to testify in lawsuits. JS made an exception and allowed Dana to describe her injuries under oath. He gave his decision on 10 March, ruling that Brink should pay Charles Dana the full $99 in damages and pay court costs totaling $11.59. Because of the case’s prominence in the , a trial report detailing the legal issues, summarizing the testimonies, and reproducing JS’s decision was printed in five columns of the newspaper the Wasp. It was the only trial report of a case over which JS presided that was published during his lifetime.
law allowed parties to appeal the decision of a justice of the peace to the circuit court. filed an appeal on 30 March 1843, but he did so in the Municipal Court, rather than the proper venue, the Circuit Court. The appeal, Brink v. Dana, was heard in the municipal court on 19 April, with JS, as mayor, serving as the chief justice. JS dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction.
On 16 May 1843, filed an appeal with the Circuit Court in , Illinois. The court issued an injunction ordering JS to suspend the 10 March 1843 judgment until the circuit court could hear the case. The appeal was recorded on the circuit court docket as Dana v. Brink. No judgment was rendered until the May 1844 session, when a jury upheld JS’s original decision but reduced the judgment from $99 to $75. Brink sought to have the verdict set aside and requested a new trial, but the court upheld the verdict on 27 May. The court was unable to collect, and in September 1844 commenced an action against not only Brink but also Jonah Ball and (Dana’s sureties on the appeal bond) by filing a declaration demanding that the judgment and damages be collected. This iteration of the case was recorded on the docket as Dana v. Brink, Ball, and Smith. On 23 October 1844, the court again ruled in Dana’s favor. In January 1845, the Hancock County sheriff was able to sell $25.37 of the defendants’ assets to cover some of the case costs. Finally, on 19 October 1846 the court approved a motion that “this suit be dismissed at the plaintiffs Costs,” presumably because the court was not going to expend additional resources attempting to collect the remainder of the judgment.
 
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

    Trial Report, between 4 and 22 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink]. Thomsonian or “botanic” physicians like William Brink believed all illness was caused by cold and that any treatment producing heat would aid in recovery. They used cayenne pepper, steam baths, and Lobelia inflata (a plant) to cause heavy sweating and vomiting. (See JS, Journal, 2 Mar. 1843, in JSP, J2:281n486.)  

    JSP, J2 / Hedges, Andrew H., Alex D. Smith, and Richard Lloyd Anderson, eds. Journals, Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843. Vol. 2 of the Journals series of The Joseph Smith Papers, edited by Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2011.

  2. 2

    Trial Report, between 4 and 22 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink]; see also Dinger, “Medicine and Obstetrics in Mormon Nauvoo,” 51–68.  

    Dinger, Steven C. “‘The Doctors in This Region Don’t Know Much’: Medicine and Obstetrics in Mormon Nauvoo.” Journal of Mormon History 42, no. 4 (October 2016): 51–68.

  3. 3

    Summons, 14 Feb. 1843 [Dana v. Brink]; see also Dinger, “Judge Joseph Smith and the Expansion of the Legal Rights of Women,” 74. The Nauvoo charter designated the city’s mayor a justice of the peace with jurisdiction over minor criminal and civil matters. Illinois law granted justices of the peace jurisdiction in civil actions, including assumpsit or breach of contract suits, in cases where the debt or demand did not exceed $100. (An Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo [16 Dec. 1840], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], p. 55, sec. 16; 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.)  

    Dinger, John S. “Judge Joseph Smith and the Expansion of the Legal Rights of Women: The Dana v. Brink Trial.” Journal of Mormon History 42, no. 4 (October 2016): 69–96.

    Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly, at Their Session, Began and Held at Springfield, on the Seventh of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty. Springfield, IL: William Walters, 1841.

    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.

  4. 4

    “Petition,” Wasp, 22 Mar. 1843, [2].  

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

  5. 5

    Trial Report, between 4 and 22 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink]. Coverture rendered Dana unable to bring the suit against Brink herself, requiring her to rely on her husband to pursue the action on her behalf. Although Brink’s attorneys objected to her giving testimony, JS allowed it, arguing that because she had personal knowledge of the injury, she should be allowed to testify. (See also Zaher, “Research Guide on the Common Law Doctrine of Coverture,” 459–486; and Greenleaf, Treatise on the Law of Evidence, 391–392.)  

    Zaher, Claudia. “When a Woman’s Marital Status Determined Her Legal Status: A Research Guide on the Common Law Doctrine of Coverture.” Law Library Journal 94, no. 3 (Summer 2002): 459–486.

    Greenleaf, Simon. A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. 3 vols. Various publishers, 1842–1853.

  6. 6

    Bond, 29 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink].  

  7. 7

    Trial Report, between 4 and 22 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink].  

  8. 8

    JS, Journal, 30 Mar. 1843; Notice of Appeal, 31 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink]. There apparently was some confusion regarding JS’s role in the March trial. The Nauvoo charter provided that the mayor had two legal functions. First, he was a justice of the peace, with jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal matters. Illinois law specified that appeals in these cases were supposed to go to the circuit court. Second, the mayor was a judge with jurisdiction over alleged breaches of city ordinances. The city charter indicated that appeals in these cases were supposed to go to the municipal court. The documents produced for the initial trial simply referred to JS acting in his capacity as mayor, without explicitly indicating that because Dana had brought the suit under an assumpsit plea, meaning a civil action, JS was acting as a justice of the peace. Brink’s decision to appeal to the municipal court suggests that he was unclear in which capacity JS was acting during the initial case. Similarly, the fact that JS and James Sloan, clerk of the municipal court, allowed the appeal to move forward in the wrong court for nearly three weeks suggests that the confusion extended beyond Brink. (An Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo [16 Dec. 1840], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], p. 55, secs. 16–17; 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. 31; Summons, 14 Feb. 1843 [Dana v. Brink]; Bond, 29 Mar. 1843 [Dana v. Brink].)  

    Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly, at Their Session, Began and Held at Springfield, on the Seventh of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty. Springfield, IL: William Walters, 1841.

    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

    See JS, Journal, 13 Apr. 1843 and 19 Apr. 1843; and An Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo [16 Dec. 1840], Laws of the State of Illinois [1840–1841], p. 55, sec. 17.  

    Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Twelfth General Assembly, at Their Session, Began and Held at Springfield, on the Seventh of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Forty. Springfield, IL: William Walters, 1841.

  10. 10

    JS, Journal, 19 Apr. 1843; Docket Entry, between 31 Mar. and ca. 19 Apr. 1843 [Dana v. Brink].  

  11. 11

    Bond, 16 May 1843 [Dana v. Brink]; Supersedeas, 16 May 1843 [Dana v. Brink]. Illinois law also required JS to send a certified copy of the “judgment and other proceedings” from the case. JS apparently refused “Brink a transcript of said Judgment,” possibly on the grounds that the proceedings for the case had been published in the Wasp. The summons and other documents produced for the March trial were forwarded to the circuit court in October 1843. (An Act Concerning Justices of the Peace and Constables [3 Feb. 1827], Public and General Statute Laws of the State of Illinois, p. 410, sec. 39; “Certiorari,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:163; Declaration, ca. 21 Sept. 1844 [Dana v. Brink et al.]; Summons, 14 Feb. 1843 [Dana v. Brink].)  

    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.

    Bouvier, John. A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America, and of the Several States of the American Union; with References to the Civil and Other Systems of Foreign Law. 2 vols. Philadelphia: T. and J. W. Johnson, 1839.

  12. 12

    Docket Entry, Verdict and Motion, 23 May 1844 [Dana v. Brink]; Docket Entry, Motions Overruled and Verdict Sustained, 27 May 1844 [Dana v. Brink].  

  13. 13

    Declaration, ca. 21 Sept. 1844, [Dana v. Brink et al.].  

  14. 14

    Docket Entry, Judgment and Scire Facias, 23 Oct. 1844 [Dana v. Brink et al.].  

  15. 15

    Docket Entry, Fieri Facias, ca. 20 Nov. 1844 [Dana v. Brink et al.].  

  16. 16

    Docket Entry, Dismissal, 19 Oct. 1846 [Dana v. Brink et al.].