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Joseph’s Lawyers, Judges & Legal Consultants. F. Ross Boundy JRCLS 2014 Conference . Joseph’s Lawyers. New York James Davidson (1779-1847) John S. Reed (c. 1785-) James Seymour Pennsylvania Ohio Benjamin Bissel (Bissell) (1805-1878) Salmon S. Osborn (1804-1904)

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joseph s lawyers judges legal consultants
Joseph’s Lawyers, Judges & Legal Consultants

F. Ross Boundy

JRCLS 2014 Conference

joseph s lawyers
Joseph’s Lawyers

New York

James Davidson (1779-1847)

John S. Reed (c. 1785-)

James Seymour



Benjamin Bissel (Bissell) (1805-1878)

Salmon S. Osborn (1804-1904)

J. C. Paine (or Ira C. Paine: 1805-1883)

William Lee Perkins (1799-1882)

Lucius Verus Bierce (1801-1876)


David Rice Atchison (1807-1886)

Alexander Doniphan (1808-1887)

Amos Rees (1800-1886)

William T. Wood (1809-1902)

Peter H. Burnett (1807-1895)

James S. Rollins (1812-1888)

Andrew S. Hughes

Abiel Leonard (1797-1863)

John A. Gordon


Onias Skinner (1817-1877)

Orville Hickman Browning (1806-1881)

Cyrus Walker (1791-1875)

Sidney B. Little

James H. Ralston (1807-1864)

Archibald Williams

Charles A. Warren

Calvin Averill Warren (1807-1881)

Josiah Lamborn (1809-1847)

Justin Butterfield (1790-1855)

Benjamin Edwards (1818-1886)

AlmonWhiting Babbitt (1812-1856)

Sylvester Emmons (1808-1881)

James W. Woods (1800-1886)

Edward Bonney (1807-1864)


Hugh T. Reid (1811-1874)

Alfred Rich (?-1842)

Lewis R. Reeves

letter to a leonard from a sidney gilbert
Letter to A. Leonard from A. Sidney Gilbert


joseph s judges
Joseph’s Judges

New York

Abraham Spears, JP Palmyra

_________, Ontario County Court of Common


Albert Neely, JP South Bainbridge

Joseph P. Chamberlain, JP South Bainbridge

Joel K. Noble, JP Colesville )

__________, JP Colesville ) Court of Special ) Sessions

__________, JP Colesville )


Jesse Lane, JP Harmony


John C. Dowen, JP Kirtland ) Ohio vs

William Holbrook, Painesville JP ) Hurlbut

_______, Painesville JP )

Van R. Humphrey, Presiding Judge of Geauga

County Court of Common Pleas

Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland JP

Warren Cowdery, Kirtland JP

Ariel Hanson, Kirtland JP


General Samuel Lucas, et. al. (Court Martial)

Austin King, Fifth Judicial Circuit Court

Joel Turnham, Clay County Judge

Thomas Burch, Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court

John F. Ryland, Sixth Judicial Circuit Court

Thomas Reynolds, Second Judicial Circuit Court


Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois Supreme Court

Nathaniel Pope, U.S. District Court

Calvin A. Warren, Master in Chancery, Warren

County Circuit Court

Daniel H. Wells, Nauvoo JP

____ Morrison, Carthage JP

Robert F. Smith, Carthage JP

Thomas Drummond, U.S District Court

Richard M. Young, Illinois Supreme Court


Charles Mason, Lee County Court for Iowa


joseph s judges1

Austin A. King

(Mo. 5th Circuit)

John F. Ryland

(Mo. 6th Circuit)

Thomas Reynolds

(Mo. 2nd Circuit)

Nathaniel Pope

(U.S.D. C. Illinois)

Joseph’s Judges

Stephen A. Douglas

(Illinois Supreme Court)

Daniel H. Wells

(Nauvoo J.P.)

Richard M. Young

(Illinois Supreme Court)

Jesse B. Thomas

(Illinois Circuit Judge)

joseph s legal consultants
Joseph’s Legal Consultants

Oliver Cowdery, LDS Book of Mormon witness and leader; admitted to

Ohio bar in 1838.

W. W. Phelps, LDS printer, clerk to JS; admitted Utah Territorial Bar in 1851.

Elias Higbee, LDS presiding judge of Caldwell County.

Robert Blashel Thompson, LDS scribe for JS and church clerk.

James Adams, LDS Probate Judge in Springfield, Illinois.

Robert Blashel Thompson, LDS scribe for JS and church clerk.


Stephen A. Douglas, Illinois Supreme Court

Daniel H. Wells, non-LDS JP in Nauvoo; baptized in 1846

Joisah Morin, non-LDS Daviess County Judge

Jesse B. Thomas, Jr. non-LDS Circuit Court Judge in Springfield, Illinois.

benjamin f johnson
Benjamin F. Johnson

The days of tribulation were now fast approaching, for just as the Prophet so often told us, so it came to pass; and those he had called around him as a cordon of safety and strength were worse than a rope of sand, and were now forging his fetters. William Law was his first counselor; Wilson Law, Major General of the Legion; Wm. Marks, President of the Stake; the Higbies, his confidential attorneys, and Dr. Foster, his financial business agent. All of these and many others entered into secret covenant so much worse than Judas, that they would have the Prophet's life, just in fulfillment of what he had said so often publicly. With all their power, they began to make a party strong enough to destroy the Prophet.

My Life’s Review, p. 89

js blessing for oliver cowdery 18 december1833
JS Blessing for Oliver Cowdery18 December1833

“Behold, he shall be a choice lawyer in  Israel, both pertaining to the law of God and also the law of the land; for he shall have understanding in these matters.”


js prophecy for w w phelps 9 march 1843
JS Prophecy for W. W. Phelps9 March 1843

“Brother Phelps you shall know law, and understand law and you shall be a lawyer in Israel and the time shall come when I shall not need say thus is the law for you shall know the law.”


joseph s five journeys to missouri
Joseph’s five journeys to Missouri
  • 1. 1831 (June 19-August 27) Joseph and Sidney Rigdon commanded to go to Missouri (D&C 52:3)
  • a. Land of Zion and Independence Temple site dedicated.
  • b. Members of Colesville Branch arrive.
  • c. Six revelations received (D&C 57-82).
  • 2. 1832 (April 1-June)
  • a. General Conference of Church on April 26
  • b. Two revelations received (D&C 82-83)
  • 3. 1834 (May 5-August 1) Zions Camp (D&C 105)
  • 4. 1837 (September 27-December 10) Far West Conference
  • 5. 1838 (March 14) Joseph and Emma arrive at Far West (nine revelations received)
  • a. April 11-12: Oliver Cowdery excommunicated by Far West high council
  • b. June 2: Alexander Hale Smith born at Far West
  • c. July 4: Temple site dedication
  • d. August 30: Governor Boggs calls out militia
  • e. October 25: Battle of Crooked River
  • f. October 27: Governor Boggs Extermination Order
  • g. October 30: Haun’s Mill Massacre
  • h. October 31: Joseph and others arrested
  • i. December 1-April 6, 1839: Liberty Jail (D& C 121, 122 and 123 received)
  • j. April 15, 1839: Joseph, Hyrum, Wight, McRae and Baldwin allowed to escape.
joseph s missouri lawyers dream team or lackluster opportunists
Joseph’s Missouri Lawyers(Dream Team or Lackluster Opportunists?)

James S. Rollins (1812-1888)

*Alexander William Doniphan (1808-1887)

Peter Hardeman Burnett (1807-1895)

*David Rice Atchison


*Amos Rees (1800-1886)

*Wiliam T. Wood (1809-1902)

Andrew S. Hughes (consultant?)

John R. Williams

Abiel Leonard (1797-1863)(?)

*Began representation of Mormons in 1833

joseph s missouri lawyers cont
Joseph’s Missouri Lawyers, cont.

Amos Reese 1830’s log home in Lexington, Mo.

Ariel Leonard c. 1835 home in Fayette, Mo.


Slave cabin belonging to Judge Abiel Leonard

Other Slaveholders:

David Atchison

Alexander Doniphan

Austin A. King

Stephen A. Douglas

James S. Rollins: “A slaveholder himself by an accident of


the missouri dream team at maturity
The Missouri Dream Team at Maturity

David Atchison Alexander Doniphan Peter Burnett James Rollins

the maybe myth in token of his appreciation for doniphan joseph named a son alexander
The “Maybe” Myth: “In token of his appreciation for Doniphan, Joseph named a son Alexander.”

Alexander Hale Smith, born June 2,1838

the facts
The Facts
  • No record of Joseph Smith meeting Doniphan before September, 1838.
  • On September 2, 1838 Joseph "sent for General Atchison, of Liberty, Clay County, who is the major general of this division--to come and counsel with us ..."  On September 4 Joseph reported, “This day I spent in council with General Atchison.  He says he will do all in his power to disperse the mob.  We employed him and Alexander Doniphan (his partner) as our counsel in law.  They are considered the first lawyers in upper  Missouri." (HC 3: 69)  
  • On November 12, 1838 Joseph wrote to Emma: "...the tryal will begin to-day for some of us, Lawyer Rice (David Rice Atchison), and we expect Doniphan will plead our cause, we could git no others in time for the tryal, they are able man and will do well no doubt...“
  • March 25, 1839: When Elders Kimball and Turley took petition to "supreme judges" in Jefferson City, ”"The secretary of state treated them very kindly; and when he saw the papers, could hardly believe those were all the documents by which the prisoners were held in custody, for they were illegal…Lawyer Doniphan had also deceived them in his papers and sent them off with such documents that a change of venue could not be effected in time."  (HC 3:288-289)

4.  "We have tried for a long time to get our lawyers to draw us some petitions to the supreme judges of this state, but they have utterly refused.”  (HC 3:292-293).

5. "We were committed in Liberty jail, and petitioned Judge Turnham for a writ of habeas corpus; but owing to the prejudice of the jailer, all communications was entirely cut off.  However, at length we succeeded in getting a petition conveyed to the judge, but he neglected to pay any attention to it for fourteen days, and kept us in suspense.  He then ordered us to appear before him; but he utterly refused to hear any of our witnesses, which we had been at a great trouble providing.  Our lawyer also refused to act, being afraid of the people."  (HC 3:372)

6. From Liberty Jail: "...and the conduct of the mob, the murders committed at Haun's Mills, and the exterminating order of the governor, and the one-sided, rascally proceedings of the legislature, have damned the state of Missouri to all eternity.  I would just name also that General Atchison has proved himself as contemptible as any of them …“ (HC 3: 292)

“Civil War, as realized in the desolation of the border counties of Missouri, during the operation of General Orders No. 11, issued by Brigadier General Ewing, from his headquarters, Kansas City, August 25, 1863.” Painting by G. C. Bingham



“For miles and miles we saw nothing but lone chimneys. It seemed like a vast cemetery—not a living thing to break the silence … Man no longer existed here.” (Minister George Miller, returning to the area two years after the war. (

“For a hundred miles, the smoke-stained chimneys, scorched grass, and blackened stumps were all that remained of hard-won homesteads.” Meyer, Duane, The Heritage of Missouri—A History. St. Louis, Mo., State Publishing, 1973.

“In the spring of 1862, my regiment went south, and it was during that time that “Order No. 11” was issued, but I was back there again in 1864 during the Price raid, and saw the condition of the country. The duty of executing the order was committed to Col. W. R. Penick’s regiment, and there is no doubt he carried it into effect … I went down the Blue river, we found houses, barns, outbuildings, nearly all burned down, and nothing left standing but the chimneys which had, according to the fashion of the time, been built on the outside of the buildings. (Letter A. Saxeyto Junius Wells 8/25/1902)

some generalities about joseph s lawyers
Some Generalities about Joseph’s Lawyers
  • Joseph’s life was flooded with lawyers, lawsuits and judges.
  • Joseph’s lawyers were generally young, non-Mormon and destined for greatness.
  • Joseph regularly chose the very best lawyers available.
  • Joseph’s lawyers were virtually all non-Mormons: many were slaveholders, property speculators and had political clout.
  • Many lawyers of Joseph’s day ignored conflicts of interest.
  • Joseph’s lawyers charged a small fortune for their services.
  • Some of Joseph’s lawyers were favorably impressed with him; others seemingly despised him.
impressions of joseph s lawyers
Impressions of Joseph’s lawyers
  • John S. Reed: “the sutecomminced at 9 o’clock. All of 400 people had collectted to Gether that day yit seamed as if all Hell had Let Loose for the porpose of desstroing that Innocent and Boundless boy, but I belive to this Day that God was on his side to diliver him from them wicked sons of bitces…but I had not stood Long apon the floor before that cort before my tung was Loosed from the ruff of my mouth and it did seame to me and has ever sence that time inspired By that god that stood by that bondless Boy to clear and deliver him from the (h)and of the Devill.” John S. Reed to Brigham Young, 6, Dec. 1861
  • Alexander Doniphan: had never known any group of men who had the “native intelligence and understanding and force of character that have ever quite equaled the group of men…gathered about Joseph Smith and (who) constituted the leadership of the Mormon Church.”
  • Peter Burnett: “He had great influence over others…With all (his) drawbacks, he was much more than an ordinary man. He possessed the most indomitable perseverance, was a good judge of men, and deemed himself born to command, and he did command.” Burnett, Peter H., Recollections and Opinions of an Old Pioneer. New York: . Appleton & Co, 1880.
  • “The late President Daniel Wells was wont to say that some time previous to his joining the Church he was satisfied that Joseph Smith was an inspired man because of his intuitive knowledge of the fundamentals of law—a view that will be confirmed by a perusal of the parts of this communication which deal with the origin, force, and relations of law.” B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol II, p. 4.
joseph s illinois lawyers the real dream teams
Joseph’s Illinois Lawyers(The Real Dream Teams)

Orville Browning Justin Butterfield Onias C. Skinner Almon W. Babbitt

1841 Douglas Habeas Corpus hearing:

Orville Hickman Browning

Cyrus Walker

Charles A. Warren

Sidney B. Little

James H. Ralston

Archibald Williams

1843 Pope Habeas Corpus hearing:

Justin Butterfield

Benjamin Edwards