Joseph Smith on Trial — Rich Kelsey

Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith on Trial:

People vs. Joseph Smith:

Please follow me into the courtroom and take a seat in the jury box. The trial is about to begin.

The Charges:

Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stands before the court for the offense of deceiving his followers. The plaintiff’s contention is that Joseph Smith is an imposter; damages caused by his pretensions are enormous. The Mormon prophet understood that people seeking spiritual answers generally have a trusting nature and he took advantage of them.

Clerk to jurors:

Do you solemnly swear that you will carefully hear this case and come to a verdict based upon the evidence presented?

Yes? or No?

Standard Exhortation:

Members of the jury are asked to proceed with caution. The defense may try to send you looking in a thousand different directions. It is your responsibility to keep focused. If there appears to be too many shadows and not enough substance in one testimony, then disregard it and move on. The virtues of a good juror are to keep an open mind and to carefully weigh the evidence.

Opening Statement:

Using clear and convincing arguments, it will be proven that many of the defendant’s revelations, claims, and prepared statements contain false and misleading testimony.

There is little tangible evidence available for the court to examine, because the golden plates which the defendant supposedly found, the stone glasses, the breastplate which he said was deposited with the plates, and the sword of Laban, are nowhere to be found.

Firsthand information from witnesses such as early accounts of events involving the defendant, conversations with him, his scribes, and his associates will be presented; material trusted and documented by LDS sources are given the highest priority. The evidence we examine has been meticulously documented, with notation, and the sources were thoroughly checked to make sure they are valid.

Previous History:

Years before Joseph Smith became famous for supposedly translating a golden record (the Book of Mormon), Smith had gained notoriety for guiding a small group of money-diggers in search of hidden treasure.

The Prophet explained,

“In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal… After I went to live with him, he took me, with the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at which I continued to work for nearly a month, without success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed with the old gentleman to cease digging after it. Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having been a money-digger.” (History of the Church Vol. 1, 1:56)

His Mother explained,

“… a man by the name of Josiah Stoal, came from Chenango co., New York, with the view of getting Joseph to assist him in digging for a silver mine. He came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain keys, by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.”[1]

It turned out that Stoal’s children[2] were convinced Joseph Smith had cheated[3] their father out of some of his money. The matter was brought to court.

1826 Glass Looking Trial of Joseph Smith:

Judge Neeley asked Stoal,

“… do I understand you as swearing before God, under the solemn oath you have taken, that you believe the prisoner [Joseph Smith] can see by the aid of the stone fifty feet below the surface of the earth; as plainly as you can see what is on my table?”

Stoal replied,

“Do I believe it?’… ‘it is not a matter of belief: I positively know it to be true.’”[4]

Thompson testified,[5] “Smith had told the Deacon (Josiah) that very many years before a band of robbers had buried on his flat a box of treasure, and as it was very valuable they had by a sacrifice placed a charm over it to protect it, so that it could not be obtained except by faith, accompanied by certain talismanic influences.” They went, “to the spot designated by Smith. Digging was commenced… the box of treasure was struck by the shovel… but it gradually receded from their grasp…”[6]

Court records from the 1826 Glass Looking Trial clearly show that some people believed wholeheartedly in Joseph Smith’s skill as a glass looker / stone peeper,[7] while others considered him an imposter. Such would be the case[8] throughout Smith’s lifetime.

The 1826 Glass Looking Trial testimonies contain many of the same elements as the defendant’s story of finding golden plates.

The golden plates were also:

● discovered in the 1820s,

● buried in a box many years earlier,

● treasure guarded by a spirit,[9]

● not to be obtained until certain requirements were met,

● to be obtained in midnight darkness.

People are still thinking[10] about the former charges brought against the defendant. Yet, many new charges could be added to the old court docket, because Smith didn’t stop looking into his seer stones.[11] He supposedly used stone-peeping to bring forth the Book of Mormon.[12] He supposedly used stone-peeping to bring forth other written works.[13]

Evidence In This Case:

The following is offered into evidence:

● Sections from the Book of Mormon.

● Revelations from the Doctrine and Covenants.

● The History of Joseph Smith written by his mother.

● The official History of the Church.

● Various testimonies and other recorded accounts pertaining to the defendant and this case.

As we examine this evidence let’s keep in mind an admonition from the tenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints given to investigators of Mormonism:

“Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground … the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, Vol. 1, p. 188)

Joseph Smith Bringing Forth the Book of Mormon:

● On September 21, 1823, Joseph Smith supposedly experienced his bedroom vision and was told about the golden plates.

● The next day, September 22, 1823, Joseph Smith goes to a nearby hill and finds the plates.

● Four years later, on September 22, 1827, the “angel Moroni” allows Smith to obtain the plates.

● In December of 1827 Joseph’s wife Emma and her brother Reuben start translating an early Book of Mormon manuscript.

● In April of 1828 Martin Harris takes over as scribe.

● In June of 1828 Harris loses the manuscript. (the lost 116 pages)

● Then, Joseph Smith receives a revelation that Martin Harris is a wicked man who is out to destroy him.[14]

● The “angel Moroni” supposedly takes the golden plates from Smith and returns them a few months later, on September 22, 1828.

● Joseph Smith does some translating in late 1828 through early 1829.

● In March of 1829 Martin Harris is allowed to repent and eventually becomes[15] one of the Book of Mormon’s Three Witnesses.

● Oliver Cowdery starts as Smith’s scribe on April 7, 1829.

● A new Book of Mormon manuscript is finished in June of 1829.

● In March of 1830 Smith receives a revelation: Martin Harris should not covet his property, but impart it to print the Book of Mormon.[16]

● Also in March of 1830, the first edition of the Book of Mormon is published.


If it pleases the court, at this time I would like to introduce a brief rundown of Smith’s interaction with his first principle scribe Martin Harris, and also Martin’s wife Lucy Harris.


You may proceed.

Consider what the early days were like for Joseph Smith. Many[17] had heard the story he was telling of finding[18] golden plates with ancient writing upon them. The supposed translation of the language on the plates into English progressed through difficult times. In the beginning, Joseph’s scribes were his wife Emma and her brother Reuben Hale. Then, Martin Harris, a wealthy farmer, took over.

The Trouble with Lucy Harris:

As Martin Harris was making preparations to become Smith’s scribe for a season, his wife Lucy asked if she could come along. Martin agreed. Together they traveled from their farm in Manchester, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania where Joseph and Emma Smith were living at Emma’s parent’s house.

However, while in Pennsylvania Lucy Harris,

“… did all that lay in her power to injure Joseph in the estimation of his neighbours— telling them that he was a grand impostor, and, that by his specious pretensions, he had seduced her husband into the belief that he [Joseph Smith] was some great one, merely through a design upon her husband’s property…” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

Things did not work out well between Lucy and the Smiths; she ended up staying with a neighbor.[19] After about two weeks, Martin took her back home.

There, Lucy tried

“… to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; [Book of Mormon] however, Mr. Harris [Martin] paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.”[20]

While Lucy was back home in New York,

“… she went from place to place, and from house to house, telling her grievances, and declaring that Joseph Smith was practising (sic) a deception upon the people, which was about to strip her of all that she possessed …” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)


What an embarrassing history! The defendant was called a

grand impostor

by none other than his principal scribe’s wife. She also claimed that he was,

“practicing a deception upon the people.”

In other words, Lucy Harris was telling people that Joseph Smith was a con man.

A confidence man or con man is a person who swindles victims using a confidence game. What the con man is really selling is an illusion — a dream. The control the con man has over his victims is in the confidence his victims have in him, and/or, the scheme he has them involved in.

Smith was an illusionist. He had a magic act in which, for a fee, he would gaze into his crystal ball (seer stone) and tell others what he saw. He used this act before to search for buried treasure. Now, he was using it to translate mysterious ancient script.

Martin Harris was a dreamer. He fell headlong for the tales the defendant told him. He was very excited about bringing forth the golden record, until doubt overcame him.

The Perfect Breeding Ground for Doubt:

Envision what it was like during the time Joseph Smith and Martin Harris were working on the translation:

“Although in the same room, a thick curtain or blanket was suspended between them, and Smith concealed behind the blanket …” (Account of Martin Harris given to the Rev. John A. Clark in 1828)[21]

After two months, Martin needed to take some time off. Before Martin headed home, Joseph’s Mother claimed that Martin asked her son to permit him to look upon the plates:

“Mr. Harris [Martin] remained with my son and wrote diligently until he had transcribed nearly 116 pages of the record. When it became necessary for him to return home — he began to request Joseph to permit him to look upon the plates for he desired a further witness …“ (Lucy Smith History: First Draft, Biographical Sketches, chapter 25, author paraphrase)[22]

The magical method of translation was the perfect breeding ground for doubt.[23] Martin had just written page after page of supposed divine prose, dictated straight from the,

“Prophet and Seer of the Lord.”[24]

One may have thought the role Martin Harris played in bringing forth the Book of Mormon would be a faith-building experience. Instead, it left Martin wondering:

“Was Joseph making a fool of him? Was he the classic dupe, to be cheated out of his money and farm when the fraud was complete? Martin wanted more evidence to set his own mind at ease and to quiet the doubters at home.” (Joseph Smith and The Beginnings of Mormonism, Richard L. Bushman, p. 90)  

Uncertainty beset Harris.”[25] Martin knew he would be facing strong opposition at home.[26] He wanted assurance that he really wasn’t being played for a fool.

When Joseph stood firm, refusing to show Martin the plates, Martin began to nag Smith to at least let him take the manuscript home for Lucy to read. Maybe that would satisfy her? Included in Martin’s nagging[27] was a threat to pull back his financial support unless Smith complied.[28] Joseph was persuaded to hand over the manuscript.

When Martin arrived back on the farm, he found his wife had turned into a cold, hard, unresponsive woman, whose ruined life she blamed on him.[29] Lucy had moved out everything she owned that she could carry.[30] Martin’s bed[31] had been moved into another room which Lucy refused to enter.[32]

In an effort to make peace, Martin brought the manuscript in for Lucy and a few other family members to examine. Afterwards, Lucy and Martin went to visit with friends at the house of one on Lucy’s relatives. Martin ended up going home by himself. Lucy was still away from the farm when a friend of Martin’s came to see him.

Martin wanted to show his friend the manuscript but it was locked away in Lucy’s bureau and only Lucy had the key. In order to show the work, Martin broke into her bureau, damaging it considerably.[33] Upon her return, Lucy became enraged after seeing the damaged bureau.[34] She then stole the manuscript. There were no copies.

Moroni Takes the Plates from Joseph Smith:

As a consequence of Joseph Smith’s disobedience leading up to the loss of the manuscript, the golden plates and magical stone glasses were supposedly taken from Smith by the angel Moroni for a season. 

According to the story, God had told Joseph Smith not to allow Martin Harris to take the manuscript home the first two times Joseph asked. Smith said that he should have been content with the first answers he received from the Lord, yet because he was not, Joseph Smith disobeyed the Lord’s instructions.

Smith claimed that the angel Moroni said he would be given the plates back a few months later, on the 22nd of September, if he walked worthy before God. As far as the story goes, he did walk worthy before God and was given the plates back on September 22nd.


For punishment, one might wonder why Moroni didn’t take away Smith’s seer-stones and his white hat, seeing that those were the instruments his scribes said that he was actually using. Also, it seems too convenient that Moroni took away the golden plates right at the time the defendant was under pressure to come up with an identical retranslation from the golden plates, to restore the lost work. Is it possible that Smith was stalling until he could figure a way out of the situation?

The Lost 116 Pages:

“Mrs. Harris [Lucy] persisted in her endeavors to expose the fraud, and in her husband’s absence took 116 pages of the manuscript and gave them in custody of a neighbour. When charged with it she replied, ‘if this be a divine communication, the same Being who revealed it to you can easily replace it,’ She was convinced they could not possibly write it again word for word … and intended when they had replaced the portion and published it, to have it publicly compared.”[35]

When Mrs. Harris challenged the defendant to replace the stolen work with an exact copy, the moment of truth arrived. Joseph Smith, realizing that recreating the lost 116 pages word for word would be impossible, made excuses in an attempt to save his reputation.

Would You Believe This?

“… there is no doubt but Mrs. Harris took it from the drawer, with the view of retaining it, until another translation should be given, then, to alter the original translation, for the purpose of showing a discrepancy between them, and thus make the whole appear to be a deception.”[36]

The defendant was supposedly,

“… commanded of the Lord … not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen…”[37]


This is pure doubletalk. The con-game would be over if the truth were found out: that Joseph Smith could not recreate a word for word copy. 

Mrs. Harris’s claim that Joseph Smith was a grand imposter was reinforced when Smith failed to do so. Statements claiming that the original work had been, or would be altered, were just a smokescreen.

Martin Harris Loses Faith in Joseph Smith:

During this dark hour, Martin’s faith in the defendant took a nosedive, then his seed of doubt[38] sprouted and grew until it came into full bloom. Because of Harris’s falling out with Joseph Smith, Harris set out to destroy Smith’s reputation.

In an attempt to save his reputation Joseph Smith received a new revelation.

God supposedly said,

“Behold, they have sought to destroy you, yea, even the man in whom you have trusted, has sought to destroy you, and for this cause I said, that he is a wicked man, for he has sought to take away the things wherewith you have been entrusted, and he has also sought to destroy your gift; … And behold, Satan has put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated …”[39]

One might wonder why the defendant would now publicly accuse his former scribe of a conspiracy[40] to ruin his reputation. Probably because at the time, Joseph Smith believed Martin Harris was a lost cause.

Joseph Smith Starting Over with New Plates:

Joseph Smith’s reputation was in jeopardy. His original manuscript had been stolen, and he dare not try to reproduce it. Nothing less than an incredible story was needed to redeem the defendant from his present distress: 

A prophet from the Book of Mormon came to Smith’s rescue. The answers to his troubles were supposedly written in gold. Instead of starting over with the plates of Lehi, Joseph Smith would start translating again with the plates of Nephi.


Objection your honor; how is this relevant?


Without this information key elements in this case would be left unheard.


Objection overruled; you may continue.

Joseph Smith never translated another word from the supposed plates of Lehi — the translation of which Harris lost. Instead, he supposedly replaced the lost pages from the plates of Nephi.[41]

Official LDS statement on the subject:

“Joseph Smith began with the book of Lehi when he was translating the Book of Mormon. It was a record that Mormon had abridged from the plates of Lehi. After he had 116 pages of manuscript that he had translated from this book, Joseph gave the manuscript to Martin Harris, who had briefly served as Joseph’s scribe in the translation of the Book of Mormon. The pages were then lost. Joseph did not retranslate the book of Lehi to replace the lost manuscript but instead translated other related accounts from the gold plates.” (Guide to the Scriptures, Lehi, Father of Nephi, The Scriptures,

The Words of Mormon:

The “Words of Mormon” is one small chapter in the Book of Mormon, half of which is devoted to explaining that the prophet Mormon found the plates of Nephi and inserted those plates in with the rest of the record:

Verse (6) But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophecying (sic) and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren.

Verse (7) And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will (Words of Mormon 1:6-7)

Members of the jury, what is written in the “Words of Mormon” is an attempt to point the focus away from Lucy Harris’s challenge to Joseph Smith to recreate a word for word copy of the lost manuscript.

The lost 116 pages were never found. Lucy Harris probably burned[42] them. Because of all the mistrust that Smith and Harris suffered during that time, Smith was looking for a new scribe. A distant relative of the Smith family, Oliver Cowdery, came to his aid; together they finished the manuscript.

Witness for the Defense:

After the relationship between Joseph Smith and Martin Harris was restored, Martin once again became obedient to revelations given through the Prophet:

Verse (26) And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, [the golden plates] and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.

Verse (27) But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned (Doctrine and Covenants 5:1, 26-27).

When Harris heard the words of the Lord, spoken through the Prophet Joseph Smith, he did as instructed. He bore witness that he had been shown the golden plates:

“… they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates …” (The Testimony of Three Witnesses)


● Leading the witness: Martin Harris was told exactly what to say.

● Unsubstantiated evidence: Martin is led out into the woods, but instead of seeing the plates with his eyes, he sees them with a spiritual eye[43] or, in other words,

“… by faith.”[44] 

Martin Harris could have had his natural eyes closed for all we know.

● Making a false statement: Nowhere in the Testimony of Three Witnesses is it explained that the witness, Martin Harris, only saw the plates with a spiritual eye. In fact, the Testimony of Three Witnesses clearly records:

“… an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates …”

This comes as close to perjury as one can get!

● Coercion: Martin was told that if he did not say,

“I have seen them” [the plates],

then he would have broken a covenant with the Lord and he would be condemned. The rules of evidence do not allow testimony gathered under the threat of divine condemnation.

Note of Caution:

Judge to defense attorney:

“If the defense continues to submit testimony obtained by intimidation, you will leave this court no choice, but to order an official reprimand. Consider yourself warned.”

Side note:

(By introducing that testimony the defense has opened up an opportunity for the prosecution to present corroborating evidence demonstrating that the defendant has a history of threatening Martin Harris with God’s wrath).

Attorney for the prosecution:

I would like to introduce Section 104 of the Doctrine and Covenants at this time:


You may do so.

18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

26 And let my servant Martin Harris devote his moneys for the proclaiming of my words, according as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., shall direct. (Section 104 of the Doctrine and Covenants)

Members of the jury:

The defendant, speaking as God’s mouthpiece and threatening people with hellfire, is the ultimate intimidation tactic. Martin Harris was pressured to do and say exactly what came forth from the defendant’s mouth, even to the point of giving the defendant control over his money.

Yet, it’s so easy to see through Joseph Smith’s confidence game.


God, allegedly speaking[45] through Smith, said that when Martin is shown the plates, the event will convince Martin that the defendant has,

“… got the plates …”[46]

Yet, according to the Testimony of Three Witnesses, an angel that came down from heaven showed Martin the plates; not the defendant!

Obviously, if the defendant had the plates, there would be no need for an angel to come down from heaven to show them to Martin!

Doctrine and Covenants Section 17:

Verse (5) And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.

For the record, the witnesses were to see the plates and other items,

“… even as … Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my [God’s] power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.” (D&C 17:5)

Side Note:

(This revelation is a bombshell for the defense. Basically eliminating any tangible nature of the plates, and putting them into a spiritual state of existence; one in which faith and God’s power are needed to see them).

“… the prophet had always given out that they [the plates] could not be seen by the carnal eye, but must be spiritually discerned; that the power to see them depended upon faith …” (Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, Chicago: S. C. Griggs and Co., 1854, 256-258)

Doctrine and Covenants Section 17 Continued:

Verse (3) And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them [the golden plates] with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;

Verse (4) And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.

Members of the jury, the defendant acting as the mouthpiece of God, insisted:

“… this you shall do …”

this is a textbook example of leading the witnesses.

God also supposedly told the witnesses why He was asking them to testify:

“[So His servant] Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed …”

Those words are nothing less than coercion:

Compelling a party to act in an involuntary manner by use of threats, including propaganda or force. (Coercion, Wikipedia)

On that summer day in 1829, when the defendant walked Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris into the woods near the Whitmer home to see the golden plates, surely they were compelled to follow the commandments of God. There is no doubt that they tried to see the plates. But did they end up seeing the plates with their natural eyes?

No! According to Mormon leader Stephen Burnett, who left the LDS Church after hearing,

“… Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither [did] Oliver nor David” (Stephen Burnett letter to Lyman E. Johnson dated April 15, 1838).

It’s so easy to see through the duplicity. 

Stephen Burnett’s 1838 letter to Lyman Johnson:

“… when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them [the plates] & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way …” (Letterbook 2, Page 64 (

To make matters worse, John Whitmer later claimed,

I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. … they were shown to me by a supernatural power.” (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 307)

The words,

I now say …”

indicate that Whitmer changed or added to his earlier testimony, yet, the most glaring problem is Whitmer’s assertion that he was shown the plates by,

“… a supernatural power.”

If John Whitmer handled the plates as claimed, did he merely handle the plates while in a visionary state of mind; or, in his imagination?

On this subject Brigham Young, the Second “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said:

“Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of the Twelve – a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, (sic) and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.” (Brigham Young, JOD: vol. 7 p. 164, June 5, 1859)

Closing arguments:

As a young man, Joseph Smith was influenced by the folk magic practiced among his family[47] and prevalent in his day. Yet, Joseph Smith didn’t just practice folk magic, Joseph Smith was an imposter; he deceived people:

Claiming to have the ability to see treasure underground and charging people for such services is nothing less than a confidence game. Leading people into a field to witness an angel show them golden plates, by faith, is deception. And, insisting that people sign testimonies under threat of divine judgment is intimidating the witnesses; testimonies gathered under such intimidation should not be trusted.

Jury Instructions:


Jurors, you are the sole judge of whether the testimonies in this case should be believed or not. While deliberating, please consider:

# 1.  Were the testimonies consistent?

# 2.  Were the testimonies supported by, or contradicted by other witness statements?

# 3.  Has the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt?


Now it is time to carefully weigh the evidence and determine if the charges against the defendant Joseph Smith will withstand reasonable doubt. If you determine that Joseph Smith is guilty of being an imposter, with the offence of making false statements to deceive people, then please move on to the sentencing phase.

Sentencing Guidelines:


“If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false …” (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)

Souls Crying Out for Justice:

Envision a young person putting their trust in Joseph Smith’s words only to find out years later that they had been deceived. Consider the anguish that victim is suffering. Then, multiply this scenario by the tens of thousands. How much sorrow do people need to go through before action is taken to end this cycle of pain?

The Sentence:

To serve justice, the order of this court is to expose Joseph Smith as an imposter by sending links to this article to individuals in need and to all those who love the truth.

Other articles of interest:

LDS Lesson 1 — Rich Kelsey

■ LDS Urim and Thummim — Rich Kelsey

Full Article Index / LDS SERIES


[1] (Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Smith, Lucy Mack, Liverpool, England: S. W. Richards. 1853, pp.9192)

[2] William D. Purple took notes at the trial and tells us, “In February, 1826, the sons of Mr. Stowell,  … were greatly incensed against Smith, … saw that the youthful seer had unlimited control over the illusions of their sire…” Francis Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America: The Book of Mormon, 2 vols., (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing, 1959 [1942], 1:479. ASIN B000HMY138)

[3] “… some very officious person complained of him as a disorderly person, and brought him before the authorities of the county…” (Messenger & Advocate, October, 1835, Oliver Cowdery, p. 201)

[4] (CHENANGO UNION, Vol. 30, Norwich, N. Y., Thursday, May 2, 1877, No. 33, Joseph  Smith  The  Originator  of  Mormonism, Historical  Reminiscences  of  the  town  of  Afton, BY  W. D. PURPLE)

[5] “The Fraser’s and Purple accounts of Josiah Stowell’s testimony do not entirely agree. While both have Stowell testifying that he believed in Joseph’s divining powers, Purple has Stowell saying Joseph could see treasures fifty feet underground, a statement which brought a direct challenge from Justice Neely. Stowell stuck to his story, however, and said he not only believed it but knew it. Both accounts give Jonathan Thompson as the last witness but with widely differing and contradictory versions of his testimony. Fraser’s has Thompson relating how he, a man named Yeomans, and Joseph Smith went out at night and began digging, after Joseph told them the exact position of a treasure chest. They dug several feet and struck something with their shovel, after which Joseph looked into his glass and became frightened, seeing there an Indian who had buried the treasure and then killed his friend and buried him to guard it. Thompson said he believed that Joseph could divine such things with his stone and recounted how the chest, which was enchanted, kept settling away from them as they dug.

In the Purple version of Thompson, Joseph Smith told Stowell that a band of robbers had buried a treasure and placed a charm over it, which could only be removed by fasting and prayer. They dug for the treasure to a depth of five feet but decided they lacked sufficient faith to secure it. They offered the blood of a lamb as propitiation, but the treasure continued to recede from their reach.”  (Joseph Smith and the 1826 Trial: New Evidence and New Difficulties by Marvin S. Hill, BYU Studies Vol. 12, Winter ’72, p. 223-234)

[6] (CHENANGO UNION, Vol. 30, Norwich, N. Y., Thursday, May 2, 1877, No. 33, Joseph  Smith  The  Originator  of  Mormonism, Historical  Reminiscences  of  the  town  of  Afton, BY  W. D. PURPLE)

[7] “By 1825 Joseph’s fame as a ‘peeper’ was wide spread. Josiah Stoal came from Chenango County to get Joseph’s assistance in digging for a silver mine…” (The Founder of Mormonism, Woodbridge Riley, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1903, p.189)

[8] “… much speculation has existed, concerning a pretended discovery, through superhuman means, of an ancient record, of a religious and a divine nature and origin, written in ancient characters, impossible to be interpreted by any to whom the special gift has not been imparted by inspiration. It is generally known and spoken of as the ‘Golden Bible.’”  (Wayne Sentinel, June 26, 1829)

[9] Thompson went on to say, “Mr. Stowell went to his flock and selected a fine vigorous lamb, and resolved to sacrifice it to the demon spirit who guarded the coveted treasure. … Smith, with a lantern in one hand to dispel the midnight darkness… making a circuit around the spot, sprinkling the flowing blood from the lamb upon the ground, as a propitiation to the spirit that thwarted them… but the treasure still receded from their grasp, and it was never obtained.”  (Dr. William Purple’s account of the 1826 trial — Greene, April 28, 1877)

[10] Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I (Joseph Smith) have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession. (History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapter 1:1)

[11] “Joseph clung to this seer stone the rest of his life, even after his first employment of it had become a memory to be curtained off by his will, and as late as 1841 he exhibited it to some of his followers. ‘Every man who lived on the earth,’ Joseph said to them, ‘was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make evil use of it.’ The persistence of peepstones among the early Saints, and also this view of them, was attested by Priddy Meeks, who has explained that ‘seer stones, or peepstones, as they are more commonly called” were the connecting link between the visible and the invisible worlds.’” (Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History, John Phillip Walker, Editor, Chapter 2, A Stone in a Hat)

[12] “In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.” (History of the RLDS Church, 8 vols. Independence, Missouri: Herald House, 1951. Last Testimony of Sister Emma, 3:356)

[13] “Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1829, when they inquired through the Urim and Thummim as to whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried in the flesh or had died. The revelation is a translated version of the record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself. HC 1: 35–36.” (THE DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, SECTION 7 — INTRODUCTION)

[14] “Behold, they have sought to destroy you, yea, even the man in whom you have trusted, has sought to destroy you…,” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 27)  Also, speaking of Martin Harris “…a wicked man.  Who has set at naught the counsels of God, and has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and has depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom.” (D&C 3:12-13)

[15] “…Joseph arose from his knees, and approaching Martin Harris with a solemnity that thrills through my veins to this day, when it occurs to my recollection, said, ‘Martin Harris, you have got to humble yourself before your God this day, that you may obtain a forgiveness of your sins. If you do, it is the will of God that you should look upon the plates, in company with Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer.’

    In a few minutes after this, Joseph, Martin, Oliver, and David, repaired to a grove, a short distance from the house, where they commenced calling upon the Lord, and continued in earnest supplication, until he permitted an angel to come down from his presence, and declare to them, that all which Joseph had testified of concerning the plates was true.

    When they returned to the house, it was between three and four o’clock P.M. Mrs. Whitmer, Mr. Smith, and myself, were sitting in a bedroom at the time. On coming in, Joseph threw himself down beside me, and exclaimed, ‘Father, mother, you do not know how happy I am; the Lord has now caused the plates to be shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive the people…’” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 31)

[16] Verse (26) “And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God— “

Introduction to Doctrine and Covenants Section 19: “In his history the Prophet introduced it as ‘a commandment of God and not of man, to Martin Harris, given by him who is Eternal.’” Verse (35) “Pay the debt thou hast contracted with the printer. Release thyself from bondage.” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:26 and 35)

[17] “…Most of our readers have probably heard of the Golden Bible, which it is asserted was found not long since, in some part of Ontario county. Some of the circumstances attending the remarkable discovery of this truly remarkable work, may not be uninteresting to some of our readers, as they serve to show how easily ignorance and superstition are made to support whatever doctrines may be advanced — no matter how revolting they may appear in the light of reason. An angel appeared to an ignorant man near Palmyra and directed him to dig at a designated place, with a promise that he would there find a new revelation engraved on plates of metal. The man obeyed the messenger, and on digging, soon discovered an oblong box tightly cemented together. Upon opening this, he found enclosed a bundle of plates similar to gold, about 7 inches long, 6 broad, and all about 6 inches deep each sheet being of about the thickness of tin. They were united at one edge with 3 silver wires, so that they opened in a manner similar to a book.” (AUBURN FREE PRESS, Vol. VII. Auburn, N. Y., Wednesday, December 8, 1830. No. 28)

[18] I would also inform you that the plates of which hath been spoken, were found in the township of Manchester, Ontario county, New-York.  (Preface, 1830 Book of Mormon)

[19] “It is possible that this neighbor was Emma’s mother, Elizabeth Hale, who ran “an inn or tavern” and whose house was near the one that Joseph and Emma occupied on land they had purchased from Isaac Hale” (Newell and Avery, 3).

[20] “When she returned home, being about two weeks after her arrival in Harmony, the place where Joseph resided, she endeavoured to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; however, Mr. Harris paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[21] “This was Harris’s own account of the matter to me. What other measures they afterwards took to transcribe or translate from these metallic plates, I cannot say… In addition to the facts with which I myself was conversant in 1827 and 1828, connected with the rise of Mormonism…”, (Gleanings by the Way, 1842, W.J. & J.K. Simon, pp. 222ff) [Microfilm copy]

[22] “When it was became necessary for Martin to return home ) remained with my son and wrote dilligently untill he had transcribed nearly 116 pages of the record when it <then> became necessary for him to return home—he now began to requested Joseph to permit him to look upon the plates for he desired a further witness that of their work <actual existance and> that he might be better able to give a reason for the hope that was within <him> of seeing great things come to pass in the last days—“ (Lucy Smith History: First Draft  Biographical Sketches, chapter 25, verse 1).

[23] “By the middle of June, 1828, Martin had covered 116 pages of foolscap with text from the golden plates, and yet uncertainty still beset him.” (Joseph Smith and the beginnings of Mormonism, Richard L. Bushman, 1988, P. 90) 

[24] “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God…” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3)

[25] “Yet uncertainty still beset Harris.” (Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard L. Bushman, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005, p.66)

[26] “When she returned home, being about two weeks after her arrival in Harmony, the place where Joseph resided, she endeavoured to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; however, Mr. Harris paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[27] “Mr. Martin Harris, who was employed as Mr. Smith’s scribe at the beginning of the translation, had written out with his own hand 116 pages of manuscript. By long and persistent coaxing, and the most faithful promises of secrecy, he secured Mr. Smith’s permission to carry said manuscript to his own house for his wife’s inspection—a woman who is accredited with a very irascible temper. Before the precious treasure was returned to its owner, a sad domestic quarrel so thoroughly provoked Mrs. Harris, that in an evil hour she put said manuscript forever out of the way. The general belief was that she burned it.” (The Stolen Manuscript: The lost 116 Pages of the Book of Mormon; Excerpt from The Golden Bible by Rev. M. T. Lamb, 1887, p. 118)

[28] “…for behold you should not have feared man more than God…” (Lucy Smith History – First Draft / Biographical Sketches, chapter 27)

[29] (Martin Harris) “…has whipped his wife and beaten her so cruelly and frequently, that she was obliged to seek refuge in separation. He is considered here, to this day, a brute in his domestic relations, a fool and dupe to Smith in religion, and an unlearned, conceited hypocrite…” (Statement from Jesse Townsend, pastor of Palmyra’s Western Presbyterian Church, 1817-20, and at nearby Sodus, 1827-31, Vogel 3:23)

[30] “…and that she was compelled to deposit a few things away from home in order to secure them. So she carried away her furniture, linen, and bedding; also other moveable articles, until she nearly stripped the premises of every thing that could conduce either to comfort or convenience, depositing them with those of her friends and acquaintances, in whom she reposed sufficient confidence to assure her of their future safety.”(Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[31] “…his wife’s anger kindled afresh at his presence, insomuch that she prepared a separate bed and room for him, which room she refused to enter.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

[32] In the 1872 Palmyra Courier, James H. Reeves published , ”He (Martin) vowed that he would not allow her in his room and she declared she would never trouble him on that score. So determined were they in occupying separate apartments, that both expressed themselves to the hired man, that if he ever knew of their occupying the same sleeping room, they would give him their best cow.” (Vogel 2:343).

[33] “…Martin laid it aside (The 116 pages) and went with Mrs H to visit a relative of her’s who lived [blank] miles distant and as his wife declined returning with him he left her with her friends and went home alone — shortly after he got there a very particular friend made him a visit to whom he related all he knew concerning the record The man’s curiosity was much excited and he earnestly desired to see the transcript Martin was anxious to gratify his friend although it was contrary to his obligation. but when he went to seek for it he found that key could not be found but he soon resolved to carry his design into execution and to do this he picked the lock and in so doing he injured his lady’s beaureau considerably”(Lucy Smith History First Draft / Biographical Sketches).

[34] “…when Mrs Harris returned and beheld the marred and injured state of her beaureau her irracible temper knew no bounds and an intolerable storm ensued throughout the house which descended with greatest force upon the head of the devoted husband” (Lucy Smith History First Draft / Biographical Sketches).


[36] (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 26)


    As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by the evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated, by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred and sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again—and being commanded of the Lord that I should not translate the same over again, for Satan had put it into their hearts to tempt the Lord their God, by altering the words, that they did read contrary from that which I translated and caused to be written; and if I should bring forth the same words again, or, in other words, if I should translate the same over again, they would publish that which they had stolen, and Satan would stir up the hearts of this generation, that they might not receive this work: but behold, the Lord said unto me, I will not suffer that Satan shall accomplish his evil design in this thing: therefore thou shalt translate from the plates of Nephi, until ye come to that which ye have translated, which ye have retained; and behold ye shall publish it as the record of Nephi …” (Preface to the 1830 Book of Mormon)

[38] “Between April 12 and June 14, 1828, the two of them completed 116 pages of manuscript. At this point, Harris, who suffered from his wife’s doubts about the existence of the plates, asked permission to show the manuscript to her and four other family members.” (Church History 1820 – 1831, Background Founding New York Period; light planet on-line article)

[39] (Doctrine and Covenants 10:7 and 10; also, Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 27)


•  “For he [the Devil] hath put into their hearts to do this, that by lying they may say they have caught you in the words which you have pretended to translate.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:13)

•  “For, behold, they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied and that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself.” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:31)


(Verse) 32 And, behold, they will publish this, and Satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words.

(Verse) 33 Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation.

(Verse) 34 But behold, here is wisdom, and because I show unto you wisdom, and give you commandments concerning these things, what you shall do, show it not unto the world until you have accomplished the work of translation.

(Verse) 35 Marvel not that I said unto you: Here is wisdom, show it not unto the world—for I said, show it not unto the world, that you may be preserved.

(Verse) 36 Behold, I do not say that you shall not show it unto the righteous;

(Verse) 37 But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter.

(Verse) 38 And now, verily I say unto you, that an account of those things that you have written, which have gone out of your hands, is engraven upon the plates of Nephi;

(Verse) 39 Yea, and you remember it was said in those writings that a more particular account was given of these things upon the plates of Nephi.

(Verse) 40 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi is more particular concerning the things which, in my wisdom, I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account.

(Verse) 41 Therefore, you shall translate the engravings which are on the plates of Nephi, down even till you come to the reign of king Benjamin, or until you come to that which you have translated, which you have retained … ” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:32-41)

[42] “The most widespread rumor was that Harris’ wife, irritated at having earlier been denied a glimpse of the ancient plates, had removed the manuscript translation from Martin’s unlocked bureau and burned it. Not long afterward, she and Martin separated.” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Manuscript Lost 116 Pages, Macmillan 1992).

[43] Statement from John H. Gilbert, the man who did most of the typesetting for the original 1830 Book of Mormon:

“Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,–(Harris–Cowdery and Whitmer) I said to him,–‘Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?’ Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, ‘No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.



“The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim.  1 – 4, By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items …”

[45] “And now, behold, this shall you say unto him—he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things;” (Doctrine and Covenants 5:2)

[46] Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me; (D&C 5:1)

[47] In her History, Joseph’s mother: Lucy Mack Smith speaks of the family drawing “magic circles,” “abrac” — which is short for (abracadabra), and “sooth saying.” Magic circles are used to form a space of magical protection from the spirit / treasure guardian, the person is invoking:

“Let not the reader suppose that because I shall pursue another topic for a season that we stopt (sic) our labor and went at trying to win the faculty of Abrac drawing Magic circles or sooth saying to the neglect of all kinds of business.” (Rough Rolling Stone, Bushman, 2006, p.p. 50-51; quoted from, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations. Smith, Lucy Mack, Liverpool, England: S. W. Richards. 1853)