Introduction to D. Lake v. JS

Document Transcript

D. Lake v. JS
Kirtland Township, Geauga Co., Ohio, Justice of the Peace Court, 4 December 1834
Geauga Co., Ohio, Court of Common Pleas, 19 June 1835
 
Historical Introduction
In November 1834, former Latter-day Saint brought a lawsuit against JS seeking payment for Lake’s participation in the 1834 expedition. After antagonists expelled church members from , Missouri, in late 1833, Latter-day Saints traveled from and to assist the refugees. At the outset, camp members were asked to consecrate, or donate, money or goods to support the expedition. Individuals who brought family members on the march were evidently exempt. There is no indication that participants were promised payment for their services. Lake was listed as donating $0.00 at the march’s commencement; he may have been accompanied by family members.
After returning to , initiated a lawsuit against JS seeking payment for labor and expenses on the expedition. The suit was filed with , justice of the peace for in , and was brought under the common law “action of debt.” Dowen issued a summons for JS on 24 November 1834, and JS appeared for the trial four days later. After the parties gave “the proofs & allegations,” Dowen adjourned the court until 4 December. On that day, he ruled in Lake’s favor and ordered JS to pay $63.67 plus costs of $8.04.
About a week later, JS appealed the decision to the Court of Common Pleas. He entered into a $150 guaranteeing his ability to pay whatever the court decided upon appeal. On 7 May 1835, , by his attorneys and , filed a declaration stating his claims that JS owed him $200 for his labor and monetary contributions to the camp. Lake also changed the common law action from debt to , possibly because the latter action allowed greater flexibility in seeking damages for a breach of contract, whereas a debt suit sought payment of a certain sum. A short time later, JS, by his attorney , filed a plea denying that he made the implied contract with Lake and requesting a jury trial. On 19 June, before the jury could consider the case, Judge Matthew Birchard held that Lake had not adduced sufficient evidence that the contract had been made and “direct[ed] that he [Lake] become ,” meaning the suit was dismissed. Lake was ordered to pay his own costs, assessed at $10.86, as well as JS’s $25.64 costs. He evidently failed to pay any of the costs.
 
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

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 19 June 1835 [D. Lake v. JS].  

  2. 2

    See “Joseph Smith Documents from April 1834 through September 1835.”  

  3. 3

    See Account with the Church of Christ, ca. 11–29 Aug. 1834.  

  4. 4

    Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 19 June 1835 [D. Lake v. JS]. Brigham Young recalled that Lake charged JS “$30 a month for going up in Zion’s camp to Missouri” and that he said JS “had promised him a lot of land.” (See “History of Brigham Young,” Deseret News [Salt Lake City], 10 Feb. 1858, 385.)  

    Deseret News. Salt Lake City. 1850–.

  5. 5

    Docket Entry, between 24 Nov. and 4 Dec. 1834 [D. Lake v. JS]. The action of debt “lies for the recovery of a sum certain,” suggesting that there needed to be a contract, either written or oral, that promised payment of a specific amount. Lake may have originally chosen this action because it “is a more extensive remedy for the recovery of money, than assumpsit or covenant, for it lies to recover money due upon legal liabilities” as well as “for work and labour.” (Swan, Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, 1:15; “Debt, remedies,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:290.)  

    Swan, Joseph R. The Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, in Ohio, and Precedents in Pleading, with Practical Notes; together with the Forms of Process and Clerks’ Entries. 2 vols. Columbus: Isaac N. Whiting, 1845.

    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.

  6. 6

    Docket Entry, between 24 Nov. and 4 Dec. 1834 [D. Lake v. JS]. Ohio law authorized justices of the peace to hear debt cases up to one hundred dollars. (An Act Defining the Powers and Duties of Justices of the Peace and Constables, in Civil Cases [14 Mar. 1831], Acts of a General Nature [1831], p. 171, sec. 1.)  

    Acts of a General Nature, Enacted, Revised and Ordered to Be Reprinted, at the First Session of the Twenty-Ninth General Assembly of the State of Ohio. Columbus: Olmsted and Bailhache, 1831.

  7. 7

    Bond, 10 Dec. 1834 [D. Lake v. JS].  

  8. 8

    Declaration, 7 May 1835 [D. Lake v. JS].  

  9. 9

    Lake may have intended to show that it was implied or assumed that participants in the Camp of Israel march would be paid for their services, and that JS’s failure to do so constituted a breach of contract. Lake’s declaration stated four ways that JS owed him $200. The suit was not seeking $800 from JS, but was actually a single debt, expressed in different ways. This followed legal procedures of the times. (Swan, Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, 1:14, 212–217; see also “Assumpsit, in contracts” and “Assumpsit in practice,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:99–100.)  

    Swan, Joseph R. The Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings at Law, in Ohio, and Precedents in Pleading, with Practical Notes; together with the Forms of Process and Clerks’ Entries. 2 vols. Columbus: Isaac N. Whiting, 1845.

    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.

  10. 10

    Plea, between 7 May and ca. 16 June 1835 [D. Lake v. JS].  

  11. 11

    See Docket Entry, Judgment, 19 June 1835 [D. Lake v. JS]; Docket Entry, Costs, ca. 19 June 1835 [D. Lake v. JS]; and Transcript of Proceedings, ca. 19 June 1835 [D. Lake v. JS]. See also “Judgment of Nonsuit,” in Bouvier, Law Dictionary, 1:551–552.  

    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.