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Geofroy v. Riggs

133 U.S. 258 (1890)

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Geofroy v. Riggs

United States Supreme Court

133 U.S. 258 (1890)

Facts

T. Lawrason Riggs, a United States citizen who was a resident of the District of Columbia, died and authorized his French nephews (plaintiffs) to inherit an interest in real estate located in the District of Columbia. Riggs’s American siblings, including E. Francis Riggs (defendants), lived in the District of Columbia and claimed an ownership interest in Riggs’s property. In 1800 France and the United States signed a treaty allowing each country’s citizens to inherit property belonging to citizens of the other country. However, Maryland statutory and common law at the time prohibited foreigners from inheriting property belonging to United States citizens. In 1801 Congress stated that the laws of Maryland applied to the District of Columbia. Accordingly, the trial court held that the French nephews were ineligible to inherit Riggs’s property, and the District of Columbia Supreme Court affirmed. The French nephews appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Field, J.)

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