Does Plessy v. Ferguson apply to the definition of slavery?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Murphy, B303415 (Cal. App. 2020):

a chattel, or, at least, the control of the labor and services of one man for the benefit of another, and the absence of a legal right to the disposal of his own person, property, and services."6 (Plessy v. Ferguson, supra, 163 U.S. at p. 542.) The crime of human trafficking as alleged against defendant, by contrast, does not require proof of a defendant's "ownership" of another "as a chattel" or, necessarily, the control of the other's labor and services. Thus, human trafficking, as heinous as it is, does not necessarily encompass slavery as defined in Plessy v. Ferguson. If the prosecutor's references to slavery were meant to convey the meaning given in Plessy v. Ferguson and the jury understood them in that sense, defendant's argument that the prosecutor was urging the jury to find him guilty because he engaged in slavery has some persuasive force.

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