BROWNSVILLE V. CAVAZOS, 100 U. S. 138 (1879)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Brownsville v. Cavazos, 100 U.S. 138 (1879)

Brownsville v. Cavazos

100 U.S. 138


1. By the laws of Mexico in force in 1826, a pueblo or town, when recognized as such by public authority, became entitled to certain lands, which to the extent of four square leagues, embracing its site and the adjoining territory, were to be measured and assigned to it.

2. By the Constitution of Tamaulipas, one of the States of Mexico, in force in 1826, the land of an individual could not be expropriated -- that is, divested of its private character -- for an object of common recognized utility, with out previous compensation, the amount of which could be estimated only by arbiters appointed by him and the state. If such compensation was not made, though the failure to make it was caused by his refusal to appoint an arbiter, his title was not divested, and he and his grantees could recover the land after the jurisdiction over the country had been transferred by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

3. By the law of Texas, a judgment against a plaintiff in an action for the possession of lands is conclusive unless he commence a second action within a year. Held that in an action for the same lands commenced within the year by the former defendant against the grantees of the former plaintiff,

Page 100 U. S. 139

the latter are not precluded by that judgment from setting up their claim to them.

4. Where, up to the commencement of the action, a mixed possession of the land and a continued litigation respecting it existed, and there was no actual occupation of a large portion of it -- held that no prescription could be maintained by either party, and that the case must be determined on the documentary evidence of title.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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