EASY DIVORCE IN UTAH.
"Mormon Corruption. SALT LAKE, Sept. 26.—The committee ap-pointed by the grand jury to inspect the records of "the probate court of Salt Lake City finished their labor and made a report to the grand jury at 2 o'clock this afternoon. The business of the grand jury having been fin-ished, that body appeared in court at 4 P. M. and was discharged from further attendance. The utter rottenness of the probate court of Salt Lake county has been established and shown up by the investigations of the com-mittee, and the reason of the probate judge for resisting the order of the district judge for an inspection of his records by the committee of the grand jury is apparent. The following is the report of the committee fiied with the district court:
To M. K. Hartness, Foreman of the Grand. Jury—GENTLEMEN: Your committee, appointed to ex-amine and report upon the conduct of affairs in the probate court of the county, beg leave to offer the following as the re-sult of their investigations: Your committee have confined themselves more particularly in their investigation to the branch of the divorce business as carried on in that court, and we would here say that it is beyond the limit and power of this committee to give in detail every case of di-vorce as it appears on the records of the court; but we believe the showing of such cases we present are a fair representation of the practice of granting divorces in this court and we think will fully con-vince this jury that the system of granting divorces in said court is such an outrage on justice and law that measures should be taken that would at once stay such proceedings.
As an example of the practice in said court, we would state that from the beginning of September, 1876, to September, 1877, there have been upward of 300 divorces granted, and at least 80 per cent of that number were applied for when both parties to the suit were non-residents of the territory and be-yond the jurisdiction of the court. Under this practice, it is quite evident that great injustice must be done, and the mocking it makes of judi cial proceedings, which is supposed to be the most sacred trust of any court. We find that it is the general rule of practice in this court where the parties are non residents and where the complain-ing party prays for relief from his or her- matri-monial obligations, to employ some not over-sensitive or scrupulous attorney whose names are very seldom attached to the complaint, to forward the name to the probate court? where the com-plaint is filed. Accompanying this document is an affidavit irom the party complaining, to the effect that the grievances allowed in the complaint are all made in good faith ; that he or she, as the case maybe, intends to become a resident of Utah ; but at present it is out of the power of the applicant, and that the last known place of residence of the defendant is so and so,—(naming the place.)
Upon the showing of these valuable single hand- ed documents made by the plaintiff, his honor Judge Elias Smith issues a summons to be addresssd and mailed to the last known place of residence as sworn to by the plaintiff, and citing the defendants to appear before his court in from 12 to 16 days and show cause why such relief should not be granted as prayed for in the complaint. Now, the plaintiff in this case, for instance, lives in New York, which gives five days to go and five days to return, and which leaves a margin of only a very few days for the defendant to consider whether he or she will appear in the case in this court. But the time of this court appears to be too valuable to be wasted by such a trifling contingency as the summons not reaching the party to whom it was addressed. Now, supposing that tne last known place of resi-dence is given correctly, but the court seems to have great faith in the postal department and a letter must of course find the party to whom it is addressed. So accordingly on the last day given for the appearance of the defendant, his honor Judge. Elias Smith grants the decree as prayed for. Such in brief is the practice of this bogus divorce mill when the parties are non residents and when the complaining party prays for a divorce upon the grounds of incompatibility of temper or differ-ent aims and objects in life, etc ; such reasons be-ing most frequently employed. But we find a still more novel method of shuffling off the matrimonial obligations. A husband or wife, both non resi-dents of the territory, and either of them making complaint and swearing that the defendant has abandoned his or her home, and filing such state-meat,without any other corroboratiug evidence can get the decree granted the same day that the petition is filed. As this may seem too incredible for belief, we will here cite several cases as exam-ples of many, viz: Rose Barry vs. Dennis Barry; complaint filed January 3d, 1877; sworn to in San Francisco; decree granted same day. Dominick Morogh vs. Josephine Morogh; complaint sworn to in New York City; filed January 3d, 1877; decree granted same day. Bently Stevens vs. Adeline Stevens; complaint sworn to in Chicago; filed Feb-ruary 20, 3877; decree granted same day Robert E. Nesbit vs. Frances Nesbit, com-plaint sworn to in Terre Haute, Indiana; filed February 20, 1877; decree granted same day. Alice Atwood vs Nathaniel Atwood; complaint sworn to in St. Louis; filed April 16th, Plaintiff swears defendant's last known place of residence was ''at sea"; decree granted two days after filing application. John E. B. Vail vs. B.N. Vail; complaint sworn to in New York : filed April 5. 1877 ; last known place of residence of defendant, in France; decree granted April 9,1877.
To further instance the fraudulent and nefarious practice of this divorce business, we would cite the following cases : Helen Leonard applies for a di- vorce from Peter Leonard, of llldrington, Canada ; files her complaint in this court, swearing to it in Alien county, Indiana : asks that, as personal ser-vice cannot be made upon defendant within the jurisdiction of this court, the court direct that ser-vice be taken as forfeited, according to section 5 Utah statutes, in reference to divorce; decree granted two days after filing petition.
Mary A. Smith files complaint against Orlo Smith on January 29, 1877. In the application she makes affidavit that she wishes to become a resident of Utah, but circumstances at present prevent. Orlo Smith makes answer, sworn to before John F. Evans, clerk of common pleas, Delaware, Ohio, stating that plaintiff is not a resident of Utah, and never was, but is, and always was, a resident of Delaware, Ohio; that her petition is a fraud, prac tised by divers ana unscrupulous attorneys. De fendant does not consent to the jurisdiction of Judge Elias Smith's court and wants the action dis-missed. George C. Bates, attorney for plaintiff, on February 16, 1877, demurs to defendant's answer or plea as containing no defense, either in law or equity, to the bill filed in this court, and prays judgment according to the prayer in the bill. De-cree granted March 2,1877.
Amelia L. Elifitz applies for a divorce from Daniel G. Elifitz, Feb. 22, 1877 ; petition sworn to in Chi-cago. Defendant writes February 28th from At-lantic City to the court, that he had received the notice purporting to come from the court in regard to the suit by his wife against him ; that the no- tice does not state what the grounds for divorce are ; that his wife is not, nor never was a resident or fit Salt Lake City; wants to know in time so as to send an attorney to defend March 1st, writes again that his attorneys say that the notice is il-legal, unless it states what the action is brought for, and says further to Judge Elias Smith, "If you render a decree against me, I will make it red hot for you." After this correspondence, which is yet on file in the office, the court pursues the even tenor of its way and grants Amelia the decree on the 20th day of March, 1877.
Another case presenting features of a novel char-acter is as follows: A. H. Gran: writes from Rock Springs, Wyoming territory, Feb. 18, 1877, to D. Bockholt, Esq., who is clerk of the court as follows: -
Dear Sir: Herewith find complaint, signed. I have been waiting to hear from my friends, and have received answers from all I wrote to and they are willing to make the affidavit. I have written to them to forward the same to me imme-diately. I believe the defendant is living at Ana-mosa, Jones county, Iowa, That was the last I heard of her. I don't know whether her consent could be obtained or not. It would be according to her feelings in the matter. I wish to gain this divorce with as little publicity as possible. As soon as the affidavits arrive I will forward them. Should I go to Utah I will inform you. I am ex-pecting an office somewhere in Utah soon.
A. H GRANT.
His complaint, filed February 21st, was sworn to before Solomon Ralf, justice of the peace. Sweet-water county, Wyoming, on February 16, 1877. March 2, 1877, he writes again as follows :
ROCK SPRINGS, W. T., March 2.1877.
Dear Sir: I have two affidavits in my case. Shall I send them to you ? I expect two more in a few days, and if you write will send them all at once. Respectfully yours, A. H. GRANT.
To D Bockholt, clerk probate court, Salt Lake.
Again he writes:
D. Bockholt, Esq., Probate Clerk, Salt Lake City, Utah: Enclosed herewith find affidavits. I will send the others as soon as they arrive.
A. H. GRANT.
To this Louisa A. Grant, the defendant, makes answer that no service has been made upon her and that she has only during the week past re-ceived a copy of the complaint and summons through the mail, and has not had time to present to counsel all the facts and circumstances to en-able counsel to prepare an answer, but will do so with as little delay as possible. Is advised by counsel that she has a good and meritorious de-fense. Her residence is in Anamosa, Jones county, Iowa. Said plaintiff abandoned her without cause and left her with two young children de-pendent upon her for support; said children be-ing the fruits of the marriage between plaintiff and this defendant. She is compelled to support herself and the children of plaintiff by her own labor. She has no means to pay counsel for pre- paring and conducting the defense, and she asks to be granted reasonable time to "prepare her de-fense, and that the court will order that plaintiff shall pay her such sums of money as temporary alimony as shall seem-reasonable to the court, for employing counsel to prepare and conduct her de-fense.
LOUISA A. GRANT.
Upon this showing the court granted a continu-ance of 30 days, at the expiration of which time the decree was granted, April 13,1877.
Your committee have examined 100 consecutive cases and find 16 cases granted thesame day com plaint was filed. 8 cases granted one day after com plaint was filed, 9 cases granted two days after complaint was filed. 4 cases three days, 3 cases four days, 1 case five days, 2 cases six days, 2 seven days 1 case eight days, 1 case nine days, 2 cases ten days, 2 cases eleven days, 2 eases twelve days, 1 case thir-teen days, 1 case fourteen days. 6 cases fifteen days, 5 cases sixteen days, 3 cases seventeen days, 6 cases twenty days, 1 case twenty-one days, 1 case twenty-six days, 1 case twenty-seven days, 1 case thirty-two days, 1 case thirty days. 1 case thirty-one days, 10 cases forty days, and 3 cases unsettled, 1 case removed and 1 dismissed. We also find that the total number of divorces applied for in the probate court of this county alone for the year ending September 1, 1877, was 343, and to show how rapid-ly this disgustful business is on the increase, we give the number of cases for the first six months, dating from September, 1876, as also the last six months, ending September, 1877, as follows: First six months, 62 cases; last six months 281 cases.
Your committee deem that the statistics taken from the records of that probate court, and as shown herein, are sufficient evidence to call for the prompt suppression of these illegal proceedings, and your committee have good reason to believe that the other probate courts in the different coun-ties of the territory are likewise engaged in this class of divorce business to an equal if not greater extent than the probate court of Salt Lake county. A significant fact shown in the examination of your committee is, that all divorces on file from non residents, which we have examined, nave been granted, no matter how trifling or unreason-able the alleged ground of complaint, nor how informal the proceedings may be, except where some resident attorney nas appeared to make a de-fense ; and also in many cases the words "county of Salt Lake and Territory of Utah" were left blank at the time the petitions were sworn to and afterwards filled in with another handwriting, dif-ferent from that in the body of the complaint.
Your committee accompany this report with an abstract of over 150 cases which, upon examina tion have been found not to differ materially in character from those herein detailed. We also find that in a large number of cases the complaint and all the papers in said cases are in the handwiting of Elias Smith, presiding judge of the court; where-in the cases are pending, showing the questionable proceeding ot a judge practicing in his own court. The development made by your committee in their investigations, fully vindicate his honor, Chief Justice Schaeffer, for his order enforcing the law relative to the insp-etion of public records and furnish an explanation of the resistance of Judge Elias Smith and his clerk, D. Bockholt.
GEO. A. LOWE.
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