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Introduction to State of Ohio v. JS for Threatening to Take Life

State of Ohio v. JS for Threatening to Take Life
Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio, Justice of the Peace Court, 3 June 1837
Geauga Co., Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, 10 June 1837
 
Historical Introduction
On 13 April 1837, filed a complaint before Edward Flint, a justice of the peace in , Ohio, alleging that JS had threatened to kill him. Newell had acted in opposition to JS and the Latter-day Saints for several years. He also strongly opposed the , in which JS was an officer. Based on Newell’s April 1837 complaint, Flint issued a warrant for JS’s arrest. Newell appears to have used the accusation to rouse public opinion against JS. According to , JS’s “life was so beset & sought for by wicked and ungodly men” that he was forced to leave his home and family for a time. After JS returned to his home in , Ohio, Constable George Lockwood took him into custody and brought him before Flint on 30 May. JS was not ready to proceed, so the case was postponed to early June.
On 3 June 1837, Flint convened a preliminary examination in the town hall to consider the merits of the complaint. James Paine served as counsel for the prosecution; and represented JS. Several witnesses were sworn. Flint’s docket entry for this preliminary examination contains little detail about the testimonies, but a local newspaper, the Painesville Telegraph, published a more detailed account. It is unknown who made these notes or how accurately they captured what the witnesses said at the hearing.
The most revealing testimonies came from and Solomon Denton. According to the Telegraph’s account, Hyde testified that in early 1837 he had conversed with JS and others about the threat of litigation against the officers of the . According to Hyde, JS stated that was the only person who might bring such an action. Hyde further claimed that JS said that “Newell should be put out of the way, or where the crows could not find him.” Hyde claimed that JS declared that such an action would be justified in the sight of God. The Telegraph’s account noted that Denton, a former Latter-day Saint who had been excommunicated from the church around April 1837, testified that in April or May 1835 he and a Mr. Davis—presumably —had discussed assassinating Newell. Denton recounted borrowing pistols and having a conversation with JS in which, he claimed, JS encouraged him to kill Newell. Denton explained that he and Davis decided not to act after considering “the atrocity of the crime.” testified that he had heard of the plot by Denton and Davis in 1835 and informed JS, who had claimed to have no knowledge of the conspiracy. Rigdon indicated that JS subsequently spoke with the two men, apparently to enjoin them to desist “from their evil course.” According to the Telegraph’s account, other witnesses testified they had never heard JS make any threats toward Newell; one witness stated that JS had said Newell might be killed if he were to lead a mob against the Saints.
After hearing testimony, Flint ruled there was sufficient evidence to order JS to enter into a $500 recognizance—the maximum amount allowed by statute—to appear at the next term of the Court of Common Pleas and to keep the peace toward . Flint also ordered , , and Denton to enter into a recognizance binding them to appear as witnesses at the trial. On 10 June 1837, JS appeared before Judge in the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas. After hearing the evidence, Humphrey ruled “that the complainant had no cause to fear,” and JS was discharged. Newell was not pleased with Humphrey’s ruling and pleaded his case in the local press. Another newspaper, the Painesville Republican, took exception to Newell’s attack upon Humphrey’s decision and characterized Newell’s complaint against JS as persecution rather than prosecution.
 
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.
State of Ohio v. JS for Threatening to Take Life
Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio, Justice of the Peace Court, 3 June 1837
Geauga Co., Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, 10 June 1837
 
Historical Introduction
On 13 April 1837, filed a complaint before Edward Flint, a justice of the peace in , Ohio, alleging that JS had threatened to kill him. Newell had acted in opposition to JS and the Latter-day Saints for several years. He also strongly opposed the , in which JS was an officer. Based on Newell’s April 1837 complaint, Flint issued a warrant for JS’s arrest. Newell appears to have used the accusation to rouse public opinion against JS. According to , JS’s “life was so beset & sought for by wicked and ungodly men” that he was forced to leave his home and family for a time. After JS returned to his home in , Ohio, Constable George Lockwood took him into custody and brought him before Flint on 30 May. JS was not ready to proceed, so the case was postponed to early June.
On 3 June 1837, Flint convened a preliminary examination in the town hall to consider the merits of the complaint. James Paine served as counsel for the prosecution; and represented JS. Several witnesses were sworn. Flint’s docket entry for this preliminary examination contains little detail about the testimonies, but a local newspaper, the Painesville Telegraph, published a more detailed account. It is unknown who made these notes or how accurately they captured what the witnesses said at the hearing.
The most revealing testimonies came from and Solomon Denton. According to the Telegraph’s account, Hyde testified that in early 1837 he had conversed with JS and others about the threat of litigation against the officers of the . According to Hyde, JS stated that was the only person who might bring such an action. Hyde further claimed that JS said that “Newell should be put out of the way, or where the crows could not find him.” Hyde claimed that JS declared that such an action would be justified in the sight of God. The Telegraph’s account noted that Denton, a former Latter-day Saint who had been excommunicated from the church around April 1837, testified that in April or May 1835 he and a Mr. Davis—presumably —had discussed assassinating Newell. Denton recounted borrowing pistols and having a conversation with JS in which, he claimed, JS encouraged him to kill Newell. Denton explained that he and Davis decided not to act after considering “the atrocity of the crime.” testified that he had heard of the plot by Denton and Davis in 1835 and informed JS, who had claimed to have no knowledge of the conspiracy. Rigdon indicated that JS subsequently spoke with the two men, apparently to enjoin them to desist “from their evil course.” According to the Telegraph’s account, other witnesses testified they had never heard JS make any threats toward Newell; one witness stated that JS had said Newell might be killed if he were to lead a mob against the Saints.
After hearing testimony, Flint ruled there was sufficient evidence to order JS to enter into a $500 recognizance—the maximum amount allowed by statute—to appear at the next term of the Court of Common Pleas and to keep the peace toward . Flint also ordered , , and Denton to enter into a recognizance binding them to appear as witnesses at the trial. On 10 June 1837, JS appeared before Judge in the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas. After hearing the evidence, Humphrey ruled “that the complainant had no cause to fear,” and JS was discharged. Newell was not pleased with Humphrey’s ruling and pleaded his case in the local press. Another newspaper, the Painesville Republican, took exception to Newell’s attack upon Humphrey’s decision and characterized Newell’s complaint against JS as persecution rather than prosecution.
 
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.
 
Painesville, Geauga Co., Ohio, Justice of the Peace Court
 
Geauga Co., Ohio, Court of Common Pleas
  • 1837 (4)
    • June (4)
      Between 13 April and 3 June 1837

      Docket Entry, Copy, Painesville, Geauga Co., OH

      10 June 1837

      Docket Entry, Discharge, Chardon, Geauga Co., OH

      • 10 June 1837; Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Journal, vol. N, p. 225, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; handwriting of David D. Aiken.
      Ca. 10 June 1837

      Docket Entry, Costs, Chardon, Geauga Co., OH

      • Ca. 10 June 1837; Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Execution Docket, vol. G, p. 78, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; handwriting of David D. Aiken.
      Ca. 10 June 1837

      Transcript of Proceedings, Chardon, Geauga Co., OH

      • Ca. 10 June 1837; Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Common Pleas Record, vol. T, pp. 52–53, Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH; handwriting of Charles H. Foot; signature presumably of Van R. Humphrey.