I have posted before on the now largely forgotten Mormon tradition of cursing. As you would expect, I have found that Mormon cursing also has a legal angle. Between 1847 and the creation of the provisional State of Deseret in 1849, the Mormon colony in the Salt Lake Valley was governed by the stake High Council. The High Council promulgated a laws, prosecuted crimes, settled disputes, and meted out punishments.
One day a man complained to the High Council that his horse had been found killed, lying in his own hay stack. The consensus seems to have been that the killing was malicious but no one knew who had done the wicked deed. The High Council deliberated at some length about the problem, and President John Smith came up with a solution. The perpetrator of the crime should be cursed until he turned himself into the High Council. The Council then voted to sustain President Smith’s decision, and the unknown miscreant was duly cursed. (The record doesn’t record the specifics of what exactly the horse killer was cursed with. I like to think that his own oxen died.)
The minutes of the High Council don’t record the ultimate outcome of the case. Hence, we don’t know if the cursing worked, if the criminal turned himself in or if he simply suffered his curse in silence. Still, it strikes me as an eminently Mormon move: the power of God delegated to man used to solve the prosaic and practical problem of finding out who killed Brother so-and-so’s horse.