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Techt v. Hughes

Court of Appeals of New York
128 N.E. 185 (1920)


An American citizen died without a will in New York twenty days after the start of war between the United States and Austria-Hungary. He owned real property. Techt (plaintiff), one of the decedent’s daughters, previously married a citizen of Austria-Hungary and thus lost her United States citizenship under existing federal law. A New York statute permitted citizens and “alien friends” to take and hold real property. Techt’s sister, Hughes (defendant), argued Techt was not entitled to take real property because Techt was an “alien enemy” and not an “alien friend” due to the war between the two countries. However, Techt argued she could still take the property because of a 1948 treaty between the United States and Austria which provided that nationals of either state could take real property by descent. The Court of Appeals held Techt was not an alien friend and thus not entitled to the protections of the New York statute. Her claim thus depended entirely on whether the treaty was still in force after the outbreak of war.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cardozo, J.)

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