Emory Law Journal

Volume 60Issue 4

Unwrapping Escheat: Unclaimed Property Laws and Gift Cards

Sean M. Diamond | 60 Emory L.J. 971 (2010)

In the wake of the economic crisis, state budgets have been devastated by substantial decreases in revenue. A traditional source for raising revenue is increased taxes, but raising taxes carries a political stigma legislators prefer to avoid. Instead of (or in addition to) raising taxes, states often seek alternative sources of revenue through their unclaimed property laws. Unclaimed property laws incorporate the doctrine of escheat, which entitles a state to take custody of property that has remained unclaimed by its owner for a designated period of time. In the past twenty years, states have expanded their escheat laws and increased collection efforts to capture more unclaimed property as an alternative source of revenue. An example of this trend are states’ attempts to capture the remaining value on gift cards, which independently are often small amounts but, in the aggregate, constitute a substantial sum ripe for the taking.

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Engendering Fairness in Domestic Violence Arrests: Improving Police Accountability Through the Equal Protection Clause

Niji Jain | 60 Emory L.J. 1011 (2010)

When police decline to respond to reported violations of restraining orders, victims of gender-based violence and their children suffer tragic consequences. Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to remedy problems of this sort by lifting the shield of immunity when a state actor violates an individual’s constitutional rights. A credible threat of liability for police officers is imperative to encourage police to act in a way that protects individuals from harm. However, the Supreme Court has substantially limited the possible § 1983-based causes of action a victim of gender-based violence can bring against a police officer. The only remaining avenue for liability is an equal protection claim. However, equal protection challenges have met such consistent rejection in the lower federal courts that many scholars believe they are not a tenable strategy for police accountability.

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