"Taking" A Constitutional Look At The State Bar Of Texas Proposal To Collect Interest On Attorney-Client Trust Accounts
Baker, Thomas E.
Wood, Robert E.
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In December of 1981, a special committee of the State Bar of Texas was commissioned to study the possibility of instituting a program to generate interest on clients’ trust accounts for the benefit of bar-related public service projects. On September 8, 1982, the committee endorsed a report recommending the adoption of the Texas Interest on Trust Accounts Program. Under the program, interest on attorney-client trust accounts that are small in amount or held for a short duration are paid to a charitable organization affiliated with the State Bar of Texas. This article analyzes the constitutionality of the Texas Interest on Trust Accounts program. After tracing the development of the program, the authors identify and describe the constitutional issues raised by the program. The constitutional issues discussed include the doctrine of state action and the general substantive protections of the Fourteenth Amendment: Privileges and Immunities, Equal Protection, and Due Process. The bulk of the authors’ analysis, however, centers on the constitutionality of the program under the Takings Clause. The article examines the Takings Clause as it applies to taxing, regulation, and the general applicability of the clause. The authors conclude by noting that the article raises more questions than answers. The authors also point out that the article does not take a stand as to the constitutionality of the program; instead, it is the authors’ hope that the article will set the agenda and describe the contours of the constitutional debate over the program.