This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
An Illinois woman who filed for bankruptcy will get to keep her first edition of the Book of Mormon, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Thursday.
Anna F. Robinson filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, seeking to discharge about $23,000 in unsecured debts. That type of bankruptcy means selling the debtor's property to pay creditors, except for property that's exempt.
Given that, Robinson claimed an exemption for a rare, 1830 first-edition Book of Mormon, according to court documents. Illinois law provides an exemption for a Bible, along with other items such as family pictures.
However, a bankruptcy trustee objected to Robinson's exemption of the book, which is valued at $10,000. Since Robinson owns several other copies of the Book of Mormon, both in print and digitally, the trustee felt that "the valuable first edition should be used for the benefit of the creditors," the 7th Circuit Court's decision reads.
The bankruptcy court agreed with the trustee, believing that "allowing [Robinson's exemption would] violate the intent and purpose" of the law, namely "to protect a Bible of ordinary value so as not to deprive a debtor of a worship aid," the decision reads.
However, the district court sided with Robinson. The 7th Circuit Court announced Thursday it agrees with the district court "that the plain wording of the Illinois personal property exemption statute allows the exemption for Ms. Robinson's Book of Mormon."
Robinson's 1830 Book of Mormon is one of 5,000 copies printed by Joseph Smith, according to court documents. She keeps the book in a sealed plastic bag to preserve it, but she takes it out on occasion to show her children and fellow church members, the court documents add.
She found the rare book while cleaning a library's storage area in 2003. The library director allowed her to keep whatever books she found.