Introduction to State of Ohio v. Ritch

Document Transcript

State of Ohio v. Ritch
Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., Ohio, Justice of the Peace Court, 14 September 1837
 
Historical Introduction
On 12 September 1837, JS filed a complaint against , Ohio, constable Abram Ritch alleging “unlawful oppression by .” This charge was based on an statute that provided legal recourse for citizens who were defrauded, injured, or oppressed by local government officials. The events that led to this complaint are not known, but they may be related to JS’s trips through Painesville in the summer of 1837. As JS and passed through Painesville on 27 July 1837, en route to , sheriff arrested them based on legal actions recently commenced against the two men. JS’s history later noted that he and his companions were detained “all day by malicious and vexatious Law suits” but resumed their trip to Canada the next day, returning at the end of August. Although Kimball was the arresting officer in July, it is possible that JS had some interaction with Ritch that day or when the party passed through Painesville on their return from Canada in late August.
JS filed his complaint on 12 September 1837, a few weeks after his return to , Ohio. That same day, Justice of the Peace issued a warrant for the arrest of Ritch, who was brought before him two days later. At JS’s request, ten men were subpoenaed to testify, including two prominent individuals—associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas Daniel Kerr, and postmaster Benjamin Adams. Despite the subpoena, neither Kerr nor Adams testified at the hearing. Those who did testify before Cowdery included JS, , and five other men, most of them Painesville residents. After hearing the testimony, Cowdery released Ritch due to lack of evidence to support the charge.
 
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

    Docket Entry, between 12 and ca. 14 Sept. 1837 [State of Ohio v. Ritch].  

  2. 2

    The statute indicated that upon conviction, the official could face a fine “not exceeding two hundred dollars,” imprisonment for up to six months, or both. This was not the first time JS had sought legal recourse against a government official in Ohio. In November 1836, he and several other Kirtland residents had petitioned local justice of the peace Arial Hanson to resign his office and leave their community, arguing that he was biased against the Latter-day Saints and had acted contrary to his office. (An Act for the Punishment of Certain Offences Therein Specified [11 Feb. 1815], Statutes of Ohio, vol. 2, p. 894, sec. 13; Petition to Arial Hanson, 7 Nov. 1836.)  

    The Statutes of Ohio and of the Northwestern Territory, Adopted or Enacted from 1788 to 1833 Inclusive: Together with the Ordinance of 1787; the Constitutions of Ohio and of the United States, and Various Public Instruments and Acts of Congress: Illustrated by a Preliminary Sketch of the History of Ohio; Numerous References and Notes, and Copious Indexes. 3 vols. Edited by Salmon P. Chase. Cincinnati: Corey and Fairbank, 1833–1835.

  3. 3

    For more on this arrest, see Introduction to Seymour & Griffith v. Rigdon and JS; JS History, vol. B-1, 767, addenda, 6nS. Barker for the use of Bump v. JS and O. Cowdery was commenced on 26 July 1837. The following day, Painesville merchants Seymour & Griffith commenced an action on four promissory notes for which JS and Rigdon were responsible. (Transcript of Proceedings, Barker for the use of Bump v. JS and O. Cowdery, ca. 24 Oct. 1837 [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Common Pleas Record, vol. U, p. 237, microfilm 20,270, U.S. and Canada Records Collection, FHL; Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 24 Oct. 1837 [Seymour & Griffith v. Rigdon and JS].)  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  4. 4

    JS History, vol. B-1, 767, addenda, 6nS, 770.  

  5. 5

    Docket Entry, between 12 and ca. 14 Sept. 1837 [State of Ohio v. Ritch]. Cowdery, as a justice of the peace, only had authority “to inquire into the complaint,” then either commit those charged to jail, discharge them, or bind them to appear at the next term of the court of common pleas. He was not authorized to try the case. (An Act Defining the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace and Constables, in Criminal Cases [27 Mar. 1837], Public Statutes at Large, of the State of Ohio, vol. 1, p. 340, sec. 1.)  

    The Public Statutes at Large, of the State of Ohio: From the Close of Chase's Statutes, February, 1833, to the Present Time. Arranged in Chronological Order. With References to the Judicial Decisions Construing Those Statutes. And a Supplement, Containing All Laws Passed Prior to February, 1833, Which Are Now in Force. 4 vols. Edited by Maskell E. Curwen. Cincinnati: By the author, 1853–1861.

  6. 6

    Docket Entry, between 12 and ca. 14 Sept. 1837 [State of Ohio v. Ritch]; Transcript of Proceedings, Ford v. Day, 24 Oct. 1837 [Geauga Co. C.P. 1837], Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Common Pleas Record, vol. U, p. 230, microfilm 20,279, U.S. and Canada Records Collection, FHL; “Post Office Notice,” Painesville (OH) Republican, 12 Jan. 1837; “Mortuary,” Painesville (OH) Telegraph, 15 Sept. 1859, [3].  

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  7. 7

    Docket Entry, between 12 and ca. 14 Sept. 1837 [State of Ohio v. Ritch]. Among those testifying were George Pease and Horace Kingsbury, who were Painesville merchants, and Orrin Blossom, operator of a hotel in Painesville. Kingsbury had at one time been a member of the church, but JS identified him as one of his enemies in summer 1837. (“Notice,” Painesville [OH] Republican, 12 Jan. 1837, [3]; “Dentistry,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 25 July 1834, [3]; JS History, vol. B-1, 767.)  

    Painesville Republican. Painesville, OH. 1836–1841.

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

  8. 8

    Docket Entry, between 12 and ca. 14 Sept. 1837 [State of Ohio v. Ritch].