22 Lewd Chinese Women: Chy Lung v. Freeman

Chinese women traveling without husbands were detained at the Port of San Francisco as “lewd women,” raising issues of immigration and federalism that went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, in a case that also touches on sexism, racial profiling and human trafficking.

Special thanks to David Weinberg of JuryGroup for creating the slide presentation that accompanies the script.

David Weinberg Jury Group Logo rsz


NARRATOR 1:  At this point, the transcript notes that the proceedings were interrupted by the noisy demonstrations of the Chinese.  A reporter from the Daily Alta California described the scene.
One of the women jumped to her feet and let out a most unearthly yell!  Immediately the whole lot were jabbering and screaming at the top of their voices, and it was found impossible to quiet them until they were hustled from the Courtroom.
NARRATOR 2: The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a woman gave an “awful screech” and the rest of the women “put their handkerchiefs in their faces and bellowed at the top of their lungs.”  The Chinese interpreter later told the Chronicle that:
INTERPRETER:  The women were expostulating against being kept in prison, saying they had not killed anybody, stolen anything, or set fire to anything.
NARRATOR 1: The Chronicle noted that the judge “stuffed his fingers in his ears and retired to his chambers, and Court was suspended fifteen minutes before order could be restored.”


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“22 Lewd Chinese Women” Trial Reenactment, October 18, 2014, New York Historical Society


22 Lewd Chinese Women: Chy Lung v. Freeman, May 21, 2014, New York City Bar


CABA & LUC APALSA presented 22 Lewd Women (Re-Enactment) of Chy Lung v. Freeman on March 20, 2018 at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Chicago IL.  Thanks to Jean Liu, CABA Vice President, for giving AABANY permission to make this video publicly available.

The Trial Reenactment Team of the Asian American Bar Association of New York collaborated with the New York City Bar Association to perform “22 Lewd Chinese Women: Chy Lung v. Freeman” on May 21, 2014, to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Thanks to Planet Depos for producing the video and giving AABANY permission to make it publicly available.

22 Lewd Chinese Women, Princeton University, April 3, 2014 narrated by Judge Denny Chin

On January 30, 2014 Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP hosted the first performance in New York City of AABANY’s “22 Lewd Chinese Women” reenactment. The presentation, featuring Cadwalader attorneys and the Honorable Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, told the story of the 22 women, through narration, reenactment of court proceedings, and historic photographs.  To view the performance, click on the image below.



Allen & Overy, New York, NY, May 27, 2021
Fordham Law School, New York, NY, March 14, 2018
NY Historical Society, New York, NY, October 18, 2014
NYC Bar Association (in collaboration with NYC Bar Association), New York, NY, May 21, 2014
Cadwalader, New York, NY, January 30, 2014
NAPABA Annual Convention, Kansas City, MO, November 8, 2013


U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, Albany, NY, October 25, 2023
Drug and Medical Device Seminar, Washington, DC, May 16, 2019
McDermott Will & Emery, Washington, DC, March 30, 2019
CABA & LUC APALSA, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Chicago, IL, March 20, 2018
UC Davis Law School, Davis, CA, November 8, 2017
Council on Access and Fairness, State Bar of California Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, September 30, 2016
Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego (PALSD), San Diego, CA, May 18, 2016
Staff Attorney’s Office, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, New York, NY, July 16, 2014
Asian American Students Association, English Department, et al., Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, April 3, 2014