A Nineteenth Century 'Habeas Corpus Mill': The Chinese Before the Federal Courts in California
American Journal of Legal History, Vol. 32, p. 347, 1988
26 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2012
Date Written: 1988
In preventing the landing of Chinese ship passengers arriving in San Francisco in the late nineteenth century, federal officials triggered a series of challenges that would preoccupy California's federal courts for nearly a decade. This litigation produced overwhelming docket pressures, created an acrimonious breach within the Ninth Judicial Circuit, and brought the local federal judges under harsh public criticism for frustrating the demands of the anti-Chinese movement. Despite such pressures, San Francisco's federal judges sought to hear Chinese habeas corpus cases with judicial fairness and offered--for a time at least--protection from some of the most virulent opponents of the Chinese. A series of laws restricting Chinese immigration beginning in 1882, served as an immediate cause of disputes over the validity of detaining Chinese petitioners. Two Judges in particular, Ogden Hoffman of the Northern District of California, and Lorenzo Sawyer, the state's presiding circuit judge, played prominent roles in this habeas corpus litigation.
Keywords: Habeas Corpus, Anti-Chinese Movement, California Immigration, Exclusion Act of 1882, Ogden Hoffman, Lorenzo Sawyer, Stephen J. Field, Matthew P. Deady, Ninth Circuit, Northern District Court, Chinese Ship Passengers, Nineteenth Century Federal Courts, Burlingame Treaty, Chinese Immigration, Chinese
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