A Japanese alien paid for some agricultural land in California which was conveyed to his seven-year-old citizen son. All records indicated that the son owned the land, although the father, his guardian, managed it. The California Alien Land Law prohibits ownership of any interest in agricultural land by aliens ineligible for citizenship. Property acquired in violation of the statute escheats as of the date of acquisition as does land transferred "with intent to prevent, evade, or avoid escheat." This intent is presumed prima facie whenever an ineligible alien pays the consideration for a transfer of land to one who may lawfully hold it. In escheat proceedings against the son and his father as guardian, the trial court found intent to avoid escheat from: (1) the statutory presumption of such intent; (2) an inference of like intent from the conveyance to a child; (3) an inference of lack of good faith from the father's failure to file annual guardian reports; and (4) an inference from the father's silence that his testimony would have damaged the son's cause. The Supreme Court of California affirmed. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed. There were no "exceptional circumstances" to justify the abnormal burden of proof placed on the defendant in view of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the federal statute requiring states to permit all citizens to take and hold property. Oyama v. California, (U.S. 1948) 68 S.Ct. 269.
J. R. Mackenzie,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW -EQUAL PROTECTION - CALIFORNIA ALIEN LAND LAW,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol46/iss6/11