Posts Tagged ‘ legal history ’

Mormon Law 2009 Year in Review

January 14, 2010
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Mormon Law 2009 Year in Review

The waning days of 2009 saw the possible loosening of Utah liquor laws as a national story. Meanwhile, in a development covered by Mormon Matters, the Deseret News suggested that 2009 marked the end of a decade that saw the growing influence of Mormonism in American culture. What was the LDS experience in 2009 in one particular institution – the American courts? After all, court opinions are at least one indication of the larger attitude towards a minority group. In 2009, I counted around 50 federal and state court opinions involving the LDS Church and its members. (This does not…

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Is Morality Universal?

November 30, 2009
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Is morality a social construct or is it universal, transcending time and culture?  Or is it a little bit of both?  Read on to find out more about what we call “morality.”

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Remembering the Howard Hughes “Mormon Will”

October 31, 2009
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Remembering the Howard Hughes “Mormon Will”

Back in 1976, it looked like the LDS Church was going to enjoy a $156 million windfall. The reason? It was the death of billionaire industrialist Howard Hughes, who apparently executed a will leaving one-sixteenth of his estate to the Mormon Church and another one-sixteenth to a man named Melvin Dummar. The claim, which was ultimately rejected by a court in Nevada, went like this. During the last week in December of 1967, Dummar was driving in the late evening in rural Nevada. He pulled off of the main road for a short rest and found a man lying in…

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The Church’s Litigators

October 24, 2009
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The Church’s Litigators

Remember Kenneth Starr? He was the former judge-turned-special-prosecutor who tried to drive Bill Clinton out of office with tawdry tales involving the President’s dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The LDS Church hired Starr, now the dean at Pepperdine Law School, more recently to promote their equities in the California state skirmishes over same-sex marriage. The Church simultaneously relied on a less well-known Salt Lake City lawyer (and 1993 BYU Law grad) named Alexander Dushku, of the law firm of Kirton & McConkie [1]. This interesting anecdote raises the question: Who are the LDS Church’s chosen litigators?

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Can Mormons Be Fair Judges and Jurors?

October 14, 2009
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The task was simple. Get a list of the area’s religions and invite them to a Cobb County Planning Commission meeting. The clerk went to the Yellow Pages and did her job, with one exception. She intentionally passed over three entries in the directory: the Muslims, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Mormons [1]. The Muslims, we might understand. The Jehovah’s Witnesses? They don’t serve in the military, salute the flag, or vote, and there is a rumor they are not supposed to serve as jurors. But the Mormons? They pride themselves on being good American citizens. Why would they be…

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Mormons, Free Exercise, and Unrighteous Litigation

October 7, 2009
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John Boyle was offended that his country club scheduled golf tournaments on Sunday. He was a Mormon who kept the Sabbath day holy. So he sued. Boyle v. Jerome Country Club, 883 F Supp 1422 (D.Id. 1995) Christina Axson-Flynn was studying acting at the University of Utah. A Mormon, she was uncomfortable that the school’s acting exercises required her characters to utter some dirty words. So she sued. Axson-Flynn v. Johnson, 151 F Supp 2d 1326 (D. Utah 2001). Boyle and Axson-Flynn both claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated. That part of the Constitution, in addition to forbidding…

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Family Court, Mormon Style

September 30, 2009
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In Maine, Judge Clapp was not pleased. The sarcastic comment he made at an October 6, 1998 custody hearing would get him in trouble. He would ultimately face accusations that he harbored anti-Mormon animus. Well which church? There seems to be a lock on the Mormon Church in this case … which we all know has a lock on family values in the entire world.

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The Church and the IRS

September 26, 2009
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Thomas Vaughn Barlow really does not like the IRS. On June 8, 2007, he sent it a letter, which stated: This means that if you do not answer me lawfully and take my money or property or in any way continue to harass me or fail to assure me of my being secure in my persons, houses, papers and effects, that I’m justified in acts of war to balance your terrorism. Do you get it? I will kill any of your agents I can find. I will blow up your buildings. This is war. Barlow is a Mormon. Well, sort…

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