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   SUPREME COURT/Key Cases 1997-1998


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Property:
Phillips, Thomas, et al. v. Washington Legal
Foundation, et al.

Appealed From: U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit
Subjects: The Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts ("IOLTA") program; Fifth Amendment

Argued: Jan. 13, 1998

Decided: June 15, 1998
Vote: 5-4
At Issue: Whether statewide pooling of client trust funds that produce interest used to pay for legal aid to the poor is, for the clients, an unconstitutional "taking" without just compensation and a free speech violation because the interest may go to political causes with which the clients disagree.

Decision: The court ruled that the interest on accounts that lawyers hold for their clients is the individual clients' property. It cannot be taken by the government for the larger legal aid pool without compensating the clients.

Read the full text of the Phillips, et al. v. Washington Legal Foundation, et al. decision at the Findlaw Internet Legal Resources Web site. The Fifth Amendment and the First Amendment are also available there.

Listen to the Phillips, Thomas, et al. v. Washington Legal Foundation, et al. oral argument in RealAudio at the Oyez Oyez Oyez Web site.

Sources: The Washington Post, Supreme Court, The United States Law Week (a Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. publication)



© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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