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Introduction to City of Nauvoo v. Hunter

City of Nauvoo v. Hunter
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Municipal Court, 29 November 1842
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 23 May 1843
 
Historical Introduction
On 28 November 1842, JS swore out a complaint before , Illinois, alderman in the Nauvoo Municipal Court, charging Thomas Hunter with maligning the church and JS’s character in violation of the city’s ordinance regarding vagrants and disorderly persons. Like most vagrancy laws, Nauvoo’s city ordinance was deliberately vague and provided wide latitude for city authorities to prosecute individuals for idleness, drunkenness, and other disorderly or suspicious behavior. According to JS’s complaint, Hunter had accused JS of being “an imposter and a swindler” on or around 26 November and stated that the church as an institution “was a swindle machine.” JS likely based his complaint on a portion of the ordinance that forbade “profane or indecent language, or behaviour.” As an alderman, Marks served as an associate justice on the municipal court and had jurisdiction over alleged breaches of city ordinances. Marks issued an arrest warrant for Hunter that same day, instructing constable to bring him before the municipal court. The next day, 29 November, Hunter was arrested and delivered into the custody of alderman , who then subpoenaed witnesses for the trial.
Following Hunter’s arrest but prior to his trial, JS swore out a second complaint before alderman , this time alleging that Hunter had violated the ’s ordinance regarding religious societies. This ordinance had been passed in March 1841 after JS, as a member of the city council, supported and helped prepare it. The ordinance guaranteed that all “religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration and equal Privilieges” in Nauvoo; it also criminalized “ridiculing[,] abusing, or otherwise depreciating another in consequence of his religion.” JS’s second complaint echoed the wording of the ordinance by accusing Hunter of using “ridiculous and abusive language” against his character.
Hunter’s trial took place on 29 November before the Municipal Court, with presiding as president pro tem. After JS’s second complaint was read to the court, Hunter pleaded guilty to violating the religious societies ordinance, and the court proceeded to hear testimony from the witnesses. The court’s docket entry states that “the Prosecutor” ultimately “recommended the Deft to the mercy of the Court.” JS’s journal for the date suggests that the prosecutor mentioned in the docket entry likely is JS, who “forgave Hunter the judgement.” The court accordingly discharged Hunter without fining him for violating a city ordinance. However, because he had pleaded guilty to the charge, the court ordered Hunter to pay the costs of the suit—amounting to eight dollars—and issued a ten-dollar fine against him for contempt of court because he had used “disrespectful and abusive language” to dismiss the authority of the municipal court.
Although Hunter had pleaded guilty, he appealed to the Circuit Court, and on 7 December 1842 the court issued a to halt the execution of the judgment. In February 1843, provided a certified copy of the municipal court docket entry and other documents, including JS’s original complaints, to the circuit court. In May 1843, during the circuit court’s next session, Hunter’s attorney—possibly , who had defended him before the municipal court—moved to dismiss the suit. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction, and the was ordered to pay Hunter’s court costs. No extant records explicitly state why the circuit court believed that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction. One possibility is that while the ordinance regarding religious societies gave either the mayor’s court or municipal court original jurisdiction, the act incorporating the city of Nauvoo stated that the municipal court could act only as an appellate court and could not hear cases originally.
 
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.
City of Nauvoo v. Hunter
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Municipal Court, 29 November 1842
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court, 23 May 1843
 
Historical Introduction
On 28 November 1842, JS swore out a complaint before , Illinois, alderman in the Nauvoo Municipal Court, charging Thomas Hunter with maligning the church and JS’s character in violation of the city’s ordinance regarding vagrants and disorderly persons. Like most vagrancy laws, Nauvoo’s city ordinance was deliberately vague and provided wide latitude for city authorities to prosecute individuals for idleness, drunkenness, and other disorderly or suspicious behavior. According to JS’s complaint, Hunter had accused JS of being “an imposter and a swindler” on or around 26 November and stated that the church as an institution “was a swindle machine.” JS likely based his complaint on a portion of the ordinance that forbade “profane or indecent language, or behaviour.” As an alderman, Marks served as an associate justice on the municipal court and had jurisdiction over alleged breaches of city ordinances. Marks issued an arrest warrant for Hunter that same day, instructing constable to bring him before the municipal court. The next day, 29 November, Hunter was arrested and delivered into the custody of alderman , who then subpoenaed witnesses for the trial.
Following Hunter’s arrest but prior to his trial, JS swore out a second complaint before alderman , this time alleging that Hunter had violated the ’s ordinance regarding religious societies. This ordinance had been passed in March 1841 after JS, as a member of the city council, supported and helped prepare it. The ordinance guaranteed that all “religious sects and denominations whatever, shall have free toleration and equal Privilieges” in Nauvoo; it also criminalized “ridiculing[,] abusing, or otherwise depreciating another in consequence of his religion.” JS’s second complaint echoed the wording of the ordinance by accusing Hunter of using “ridiculous and abusive language” against his character.
Hunter’s trial took place on 29 November before the Municipal Court, with presiding as president pro tem. After JS’s second complaint was read to the court, Hunter pleaded guilty to violating the religious societies ordinance, and the court proceeded to hear testimony from the witnesses. The court’s docket entry states that “the Prosecutor” ultimately “recommended the Deft to the mercy of the Court.” JS’s journal for the date suggests that the prosecutor mentioned in the docket entry likely is JS, who “forgave Hunter the judgement.” The court accordingly discharged Hunter without fining him for violating a city ordinance. However, because he had pleaded guilty to the charge, the court ordered Hunter to pay the costs of the suit—amounting to eight dollars—and issued a ten-dollar fine against him for contempt of court because he had used “disrespectful and abusive language” to dismiss the authority of the municipal court.
Although Hunter had pleaded guilty, he appealed to the Circuit Court, and on 7 December 1842 the court issued a to halt the execution of the judgment. In February 1843, provided a certified copy of the municipal court docket entry and other documents, including JS’s original complaints, to the circuit court. In May 1843, during the circuit court’s next session, Hunter’s attorney—possibly , who had defended him before the municipal court—moved to dismiss the suit. The case was dismissed on the grounds that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction, and the was ordered to pay Hunter’s court costs. No extant records explicitly state why the circuit court believed that the municipal court lacked jurisdiction. One possibility is that while the ordinance regarding religious societies gave either the mayor’s court or municipal court original jurisdiction, the act incorporating the city of Nauvoo stated that the municipal court could act only as an appellate court and could not hear cases originally.
 
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.
 
Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, Municipal Court
  • 1842 (8)
    • November (7)
      28 November 1842

      JS, Complaint, before William Marks, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 28 Nov. 1842; JS Collection, CHL; handwriting of James Sloan; signature of JS; certified by William Marks; docket in handwriting of James Sloan; docket and notation in handwriting of M. Avise.
      28 November 1842

      William Marks, Warrant, to Nauvoo City Marshal, for Thomas Hunter, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 28 Nov. 1842; BYU; handwriting of William Marks; docket in handwriting of William Marks; notation in handwriting of Dimick B. Huntington; docket and endorsement in handwriting of James Sloan; docket and notation in handwriting of M. Avise.
      29 November 1842

      JS, Complaint, before Daniel H. Wells, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 29 Nov. 1842; BYU; handwriting of George Stiles; signature of JS; certified by Daniel H. Wells; notation, endorsement, and docket in handwriting of James Sloan; docket and notation in handwriting of M. Avise.
      29 November 1842

      Orson Spencer, Subpoena, for George Stiles and Others, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 29 Nov. 1842; private possession; photocopy in Historical Department, Nineteenth-Century Legal Documents Collection, CHL; handwriting of Orson Spencer; notation and endorsement in handwriting of James Sloan.
      29 November 1842

      Henry G. Sherwood, Claim, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      • 29 Nov. 1842; microfilm in Circuit Court case files, 1830–1900, CHL; handwriting of Henry G. Sherwood; endorsement in handwriting of James Sloan; docket and notation in handwriting of M. Avise.
      29 November 1842

      Execution, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

      Ca. 29 November 1842

      Docket Entry, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

    • December (1)
      7 December 1842

      M. Avise on behalf of Jacob Davis, Supersedeas, to Nauvoo Municipal Court, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

      • 7 Dec. 1842; microfilm in Circuit Court case files, 1830–1900, CHL; unidentified handwriting; signature of M. Avise on behalf of Jacob Davis; docket in handwriting of M. Avise; notations in handwriting of George Stigall.
 
Hancock Co., Illinois, Circuit Court
  • 1842 (2)
    • November (1)
      Ca. 29 November 1842

      Docket Entry, Copy, Nauvoo, Hancock Co., IL

    • December (1)
      7 December 1842

      Thomas Hunter and Harmon T. Wilson, Bond, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL, to City of Nauvoo

      • 7 Dec. 1842; microfilm in Circuit Court case files, 1830–1900, CHL; printed form with manuscript additions in handwriting of M. Avise; signatures of Thomas Hunter and Harmon T. Wilson; docket and notation printed with manuscript additions in handwriting of M. Avise.
  • 1843 (5)
    • May (4)
      16 May 1843

      Docket Entry, Motion, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

      • 16 May 1843; Hancock County Circuit Court Record, vol. C, p. 409, Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; microfilm at FHL; handwriting of David E. Head.
      23 May 1843

      Docket Entry, Motion Sustained and Case Dismissed, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

      • 23 May 1843; Hancock County Circuit Court Record, vol. C, p. 473, Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; microfilm at FHL; handwriting of David E. Head.
      Ca. 23 May 1843

      Docket Entry, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

      • Ca. 23 May 1843; Hancock County Circuit Court, Judgment Docket, vol. B, p. 22, Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; image in Hancock County Papers, 1830–1872, CHL; unidentified handwriting.
      Ca. 23 May 1843

      Docket Entry, Fee Bill, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

    • December (1)
      Between 19 September and ca. 13 December 1843

      Docket Entry, Fieri Facias, Carthage, Hancock Co., IL

      • Between 19 Sept. and ca. 13 Dec. 1843; Hancock County Circuit Court, Execution Docket, vol. B, p. 97, Hancock County Courthouse, Carthage, IL; image in Hancock County Papers, 1830–1872, CHL; handwriting of David E. Head.
  • 1844 (2)