I was sitting at my desk in the Orange County District Attorney’s Office when one of our “top gun” trial prosecutors marched into my office.
He demanded, “What’s this about you guys not paying taxes?”
Me: “What are you talking about?”
DA: “Mormons don’t pay taxes.”
Me: “That’s ridiculous.”
DA: “I’m in the middle of trial on a case of felony tax evasion and fraud. I just learned that the defendant is a Mormon business man, and his lawyer claims he does not have to pay taxes because it’s against his religion. Since paying taxes is against his religion, the constitution protects him.”
Me: “Absolutely not!”
I was serving on a stake high council at the time. I was incensed. This apparent less active LDS member was trying to use the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as his pretext for being a tax cheat. He had bamboozled his own attorney, and now he was trying to pull hoodwink the judge and jury. My adrenalin started to flow, and my competitive juices spiked.
Me: “Where are you at in the trial?”
DA: “I am starting cross-examination of the defendant tomorrow morning.”
Me: “Meet me here tomorrow morning, one hour before you go to court, and I will give you enough ammunition to shoot him down.”
The next morning, I explained the Articles of Faith and gave the prosecutor a copy of Article 12: “We believe in subject to… magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” I gave him a copy of Article 13: “We believe in being honest…”
I then described the Doctrine and Covenants, and I handed him copies of several scriptures about being honest and obeying the law of the land.
I then discussed the President and Prophet, the First Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve. I provided him several quotes and official policy statements about our obligation to pay taxes.
Finally, I explained the General Handbook of Instructions, and I shared quotes about our religious obligation to pay taxes.
He left my office “loaded for bear.”
During lunchtime I noticed that he was upbeat and relaxed. I asked him what happened on his case. He said that after he destroyed the defendant with the resources I gave him, the defendant decided to plead guilty.
DA: “Everybody in the courtroom thought I was Mormon. They were all impressed by my brilliance. Thank you.”
Me: “You’re welcome.”