In 1854, a white defendant was convicted of the murder of Ling Sing on the basis of the testimony from a Chinese witness. On appeal, the defendant’s lawyer argued that a nonwhite witness could not testify against a white person. The legal basis for this claim was a California law that stated that blacks, mulattos, and Indians could not testify in any case against a white person.
This law did not specifically mention the Chinese. However, in People v. Hall California Supreme Court justice John Murray decided that since all nonwhite peoples were similarly “degraded,” no one of nonwhite blood, including the Chinese, could ever testify against a white.
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