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Newport Legal Issues Blog

What Reinstatement of the DACA Immigration Program Could Mean for You

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a policy that protects 800,000 young people — “DREAMers” — who have entered this country unlawfully as children. They are not granted official legal status or given a clear pathway to citizenship under this policy, but they can apply for drivers’ licenses, work permits, and social security numbers.
It was established back in 2012 by President Barack Obama, a policy that President Trump attempted to dismantle when in office. In December 2020, a federal judge ruled that first-time applicants for DACA would be permitted to apply. So, what does this reinstatement mean for you under immigration law?

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Blended families can pose challenges when it comes to estate planning simply due to the sheer number of people involved and the complicated configurations.

Having an estate planning attorney on your side when blending your families is imperative. Here are some tips on how to protect your new family and your assets.

What Happens if You Don’t Report to Jury Duty in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, as in many states, there are many things you can do to be legally excused from jury duty. However, failure to appeared when summoned for jury duty or jury selection is illegal. Fines vary by county and can be applied to prospective jurors who fail to appear.

Steps Businesses Must Take to Deter Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches

Cyber attacks and data breaches are on the rise with each passing year. In 2019 alone, there were nearly 1,500 data breaches in the United States, resulting in the exposure of nearly 170 million sensitive records. The financial repercussions of a data breach can be devastating for any business. Over the last five years, in fact, the cost of such breaches has gone up by 12 percent, costing companies nearly four million dollars.

As a business in today’s digital landscape, you have to take steps to protect yourself against cyber attacks and data breaches. Having an attorney skilled in these areas is key. Here are some tips on what you can do to deter cyber crime.

What is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is when an injury is caused by some kind of unsafe condition on someone else’s property. This falls under the umbrella of personal injury law.


Most personal injury cases, like premises liability, arise from negligence. To come out victorious on a premises liability case, the injured person has to show that the property owner had been negligent in some way as it regards to ownership or maintenance of the property. Negligence basically means that the property owner did not use reasonable care in maintaining the property.

Dealing With Restrictive Covenants When Purchasing Property

It’s important to review restrictive covenants on real estate before investing in a home or property. Even when your state’s laws do not restrict what can be done with your home, restrictive covenants that have been created by your homeowners' association may. Potential homeowners assume that when they buy the home, they can then do what they want with it. But in certain situations, you may not be able to paint your house neon green or install solar panels all over the roof even though you feel it’s your right.

How to Get Started on an Estate Plan

If you have decided you need an estate plan, it’s important to understand what it is, what you want out of it and how it will best serve you. The first step is to speak with qualified attorneys skilled in probate, trust and estate administration. They can assist you in getting started with your estate plan.

Here are some tips.

Defining the Line Between Federal and State Waters

It’s difficult to imagine boundaries when you’re in open waters. It all looks the same, wave after wave, with very few visual indicators of the boundaries between State and Federal waters.


Sometimes regulations remain consistent between state and federal waters, but sometimes significant differences exist, with pricey penalties for violations. Accordingly, it’s critical to know where the lines are, even when you can’t see them. Many times, legal disputes arise over activities conducted on one side of a line or the other these disputes are generally handled under  the umbrella  of admiralty and maritime law.

Understanding How to Use a Power of Attorney

From incapacity to frequent travelers to old age, there are many reasons why one would need to set up a power of attorney (POA). With this in hand, should you be unable to act on your own behalf because of mental or physical incapacity, your agent can make financial decisions to ensure your care and well-being. This legal document would allow them to pay bills, sell assets to cover medical expenses, take care of Medicaid planning, and deal with government or retirement benefits, as well as carry out banking transactions and real estate decisions.

If you’re confused about where to start or how to use the varying types of POAs, the first step is to speak with a qualified attorney skilled in probate, trust and estate administration

Legal Liabilities for Virtual Real Estate Showings

With the pandemic hitting the pause button on many in-person showings, tours and open houses, more and more home sellers and real estate agents have opted to hold virtual showings to respect social distance rules and to limit the spread of the virus. However, virtual real estate showings come with their own legal liabilities that not many people are aware of.

Should Your Home be in a Trust?

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers a different way to address and resolve legal issues, including personal injury cases, in an effort to avoid having to go to trial. The main forms of ADR include mediation and arbitration, both of which have many similarities and differences. The one that is used in a given situation will depend on the circumstances of that case.

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Personal Injury Cases

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) offers a different way to address and resolve legal issues, including personal injury cases, in an effort to avoid having to go to trial. The main forms of ADR include mediation and arbitration, both of which have many similarities and differences. The one that is used in a given situation will depend on the circumstances of that case.

Admission of Cell Phone Videos in Criminal Cases

If you are in the process of witnessing a crime, it’s understandable you may want to take video of the event, especially if it directly involves you or a family member or friend. The resulting video will allow you to review the situation later, and possibly use it to clear your name of possible wrongdoing. The use of a cell phone video as evidence in court is possible; however, the evidence gleaned from it may not always be admissible.


If you want to use cell phone evidence in your criminal case, your attorney must convince the judge that the video footage is relevant to your case and reliable.

Does Your Business Need an Email Confidentiality Disclaimer?

Email is a key component of communication within the American workplace. With its use and growth comes the risk of costly lawsuits that can impact your company’s bottom line and reputation.

In most cases, an employer will be held responsible for information that is contained in any corporate email message, which means your company has to take the proper steps to ensure email communications do not pose a legal risk. To protect yourself and your business, it’s wise to add legal disclaimers to the beginning or end of all your emails.

Cybersecurity Liability and Reporting Requirements

In our connected world cyberattacks are inevitable. Cybersecurity Ventures estimates cybercrime’s global cost will reach $6 trillion by 2021. Now more than ever, businesses of all sizes must be vigilant about protecting data and responding to threats. If your business is hacked, what’s your cybersecurity liability?

How COVID-19 May Impact Commercial Leases

Nearly all businesses operating out of physical real estate spaces have been impacted by COVID-19. If you are a commercial tenant or landlord, you may be concerned about your rights and obligations that fall under your commercial lease.


The main concerns for tenants include costs and cashflow. For many small businesses, rent is the #1 overhead cost after paying salaries. As a result, they are faced with having to set up shop remotely, changing their whole business model in many cases, while still being expected to make timely rent payments. They also have to think about how they can access the premises to clean, as well as how their potentially new service offerings will be impacted by change of use rules.

Understanding Your College's Code of Conduct

Whether it’s you who’s going off to college this month or it’s your son or daughter who’s making the trek, it’s important to think about the university’s code of conduct while they are away. The last thing you want is to get into trouble while away from home because you didn’t fully understand the rules.

How Long Will My Divorce Take?

This will vary widely from case to case. Generally, it can take between six months and a year for a divorce to become final. And that’s for an uncontested divorce. Contested divorces, where the stakes are higher due to custody, business and financial battles, can take much longer.

Who Owns Your Solar Roof?

As a resident of Rhode Island, you may have considered at one time or another putting solar panels on your roof. No wonder: in 2018, Rhode Island was the 8th most expensive state for electricity in the nation, according to Energy.gov. In that one year alone, natural gas fueled more than half of the electric power sector and almost all in-state electricity generation. Solar is known to reduce reliance on natural gas and make the cost of electricity much more affordable.

Disappearing Contractor: What Can You Do?

Nothing is more frustrating than shelling out a lot of money for a home remodeling job that starts out OK but then abruptly stops because your contractor drags out the project, or simply doesn’t show up anymore.


There may be many different reasons for the contractor’s sudden absence, some of which may be understandable, such as sickness or injury on another job site. However, this isn’t always the case. Perhaps the contractor is in financial hot water after taking on too much work. Or maybe they took on another job that paid better. Whatever the case, there’s no excuse for a contractor to just disappear without returning your phone calls. What can you do?

How Employers Can Prepare for ICE Raids

From employment documentation to payroll verification, an employer should know exactly what to do in the event of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid at your business. You should also have a local attorney on your side who is skilled in immigration law.

What You Should Know About Durable Power of Attorney

Protecting your legacy begins with having a strong estate plan in place. This includes assigning a durable power of attorney. This legal process gives a named individual the ability to make important decisions regarding your finances, your health and end-of-life care. This is typically a close personal friend, family member or other trusted person.

When to Start Medicaid Planning

Medicaid planning encompasses a wide variety of services, from something as simple as assistance with the collection and organization of documents or as complicated as a complete re-structuring of your financial assets, says the American Council on Aging. It’s a tricky balancing act, one that should be done precisely and thoroughly to avoid investigations and fines later.

Your Rights in Sexual Harassment Claims

The intense media coverage of transgressions committed by high profile individuals, celebrities, and members of the clergy has spawned an increased awareness of sexual harassment. But predatory practices are not limited to the rich and famous. The most common sexual harassment claim is one that occurs in the workplace.

Liability Issues for Boaters

A day on the water can be fun and relaxing. But any experienced boater can tell you that safety is a priority. Still, no matter how many hours you have at the helm, or how alert you are to danger, boating accidents do happen. A boating accident can cause costly damage or result in injuries. In case you are unfortunate enough to find yourself involved in a accident while afloat, you should know the basics about boating liability.

Steps to Obtaining a Zoning Variance in Rhode Island

Looking to get a zoning variance on a piece of property in the state of Rhode Island? You’ll have to go through a few steps first. If you are considering bringing your business to Rhode Island, or you are looking to expand and develop, you’ll need help getting up to speed on state and local land use regulations, including areas like:

  • Zoning and planning
  • Coastal and wetland
  • Historic
  • Building and fire codes, AKA entitlements

Let’s take a closer look at how to comply with zoning laws.

Employee vs. Contractor Classification

It can get a bit tricky to know when to classify a worker as an employee or a contractor. The Internal Revenue Service says worker classification is critical, as it determines whether or not an employer has to withhold income taxes and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes and unemployment tax on any wages it pays out to an employee.

What is a Summary Judgement?

In short, this is a court order ruling that no factual aspects are left to be tried; therefore, a cause of action in a complaint can be decided upon particular facts without a trial. This judgement is based on a motion by one of the parties that says all necessary factual issues have been settled; either that, or they are so one-sided that they don’t need to be tried.

Can an Undocumented Immigrant File an Injury Claim?

Normally, when someone is injured due to someone else’s negligence, they don’t hesitate to pursue a personal injury claim. However, undocumented immigrants don’t always feel they have this right and are reluctant to take legal action. They worry that getting involved in the legal system in this or any other way can and will expose them to far-reaching consequences such as deportation.

How Landlords Can Defend Slip and Fall Accidents

As a landlord, you are rightfully concerned about any accidents or injuries that may occur on your property. Slips and falls in particular can be common, especially in slick, snowy or icy weather conditions. Staying on top of regular maintenance, cleanup, shoveling, salting and snow blowing is key when you own or manage a property. After all, you are generally liable for slips and falls that result in injury if they happen due to your negligence.

Not all slip and fall cases automatically mean the landlord is to blame. If you are a landlord and have faced a similar situation, there are ways you can defend yourself against these types of accidents.

Plagarism in College Writing

Most people already know plagiarism is not a good thing: it’s an ethical infraction and a violation of a student’s honor code. If caught plagiarizing, students can be punished by the school, get an F on a paper or face some other kind of internal penalty. You may already know that, which is why so many students use sites like Copyscape to check their work before submitting.


However, besides a slap on the wrist from your educational institution, are there actually legal consequences attached to plagiarism – specifically when it comes to college students?

Finding Missing Heirs in Probate Cases

In general, when someone passes away, the probate process is cut and dried. The probate court will appoint a personal representative to administer the estate, who will then pay off the estate’s debts and taxes, distributing the remaining assets to all beneficiaries. However, it doesn’t always work out that smoothly.

Eminent Domain & Your Rights

While American citizens have the right to life, liberty, and property sans unreasonable government interference, under certain conditions the government can take property with or without permission. The term “eminent domain” refers to its power to take private land for public use under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Cyber Liability

Data breaches make headlines when they occur on a large scale. Think Target stores or Equifax. But virtually any business that relies upon and stores data is at risk of being hacked. Few companies are immune to the threat of cybercrime, as increasingly sophisticated criminals turn up the heat to seek out data that does not belong to them.  

Avoiding Litigation at Your Holiday Party

The company holiday party is a beloved tradition on the American business scene. But, unless you want to wake up on Christmas morning with a lawsuit waiting under the tree, how you plan, organize and conduct your office party must take into consideration these seven important criteria.

Evicting a Problem Tenant

If you’re a landlord, you know all too well how difficult some tenants can be. Whether they consistently fail to pay rent on time (or at all!), they’re messy to the point of safety violations or they fail to heed noise regulations, sometimes you have no choice but to start eviction proceedings. You’ve likely given them plenty of notices and warnings, but if they ignore them, what’s a landlord to do? There is a legal process in place that you must follow in order to stay within the confines of the law.

Minimum Wage Laws in RI & MA

Remember the 1990s, when minimum wage was just five bucks an hour? Or, go back further to the early 1970s when it was just a buck and a half. It’s come a long way in Rhode Island, keeping pace with the cost of living and increasing through the years to rest (at least for the time being) at $10.10 per hour. It will increase another 40 cents on Jan. 1, 2019 to $10.50. The push is on to have the Rhode Island minimum wage raised to $15 by 2022. The tipped wage is at $3.89 right now.

DUI Laws in Rhode Island

If you will pardon the pun, DUI laws in Rhode Island are pretty stiff. Taking a hard stance against drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs, the state has implemented stringent laws and penalties based on age and blood alcohol content (BAC) levels. First off, any driver who is caught behind the wheel with a BAC of 0.08% or higher can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Strange (But True) Laws

Most laws people can really get behind – no speeding, no drinking while intoxicated, no violence towards another, no stealing, no looting…the list goes on and on. This doesn’t mean people don’t still break them, but they’re understandable laws created to keep order and public decency.

But other laws just leave you scratching your head. We’ve found some strange but true laws from all over the country we thought you’d like to hear about.

Should You Have a Dashcam?

No longer just for professional drivers and law enforcement, dash cams are becoming the norm in many personal vehicles. Due to the pervasive nature of video in today’s society, you can assume everything is being recorded. While some may say this is an invasion of privacy, others take it as the perfect opportunity to catch injustice.

As a vehicle owner and driver, you may take it upon yourself to equip your car with devices that will exonerate you should something questionable take place.

Legal Issues for Airbnb

The rise in popularity of Airbnb has brought more choice, diversity and price points into the equation for people who love to travel. You can host your home or you can book someone else’s. It’s an idea that has revolutionized the travel and lodging industry. But, like other pioneers of industry, there are legal complications that can - and do - arise.

Betsy DeVos’s New Sexual Misconduct Rules Miss The Mark

By Jonathan Cook

Sayer, Regan & Thayer, LLP

As student defense attorney, I regularly represent both complainants and the accused in sexual misconduct disciplinary proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. The first thought that came to mind after reading the recent New York Times story, “New U.S. Sexual Misconduct Rules Bolster Rights of Accused and Protect Colleges,” was just how far removed from the trenches Ms. DeVos and her advisers are to make real change. The new rules fail to address the biggest problem with sexual misconduct proceedings:  from the investigation process to the hearing, it is the glaring absence of evidentiary safeguards.

Legal Documents Every College Student Should Have

As millions of students head back to college, or make the exciting journey for the first time, nobody wants to think of possible problems or issues that may arise. Yet it pays to be prepared, for both the student and their parents. Here is a list of legal documents that every college student needs before they hit the books this fall.

What You Need to Know About Changes to Flood Insurance

Maritime law refers to the laws that govern nautical matters and maritime businesses. Essentially, these are the laws of the ocean.

Maritime laws are kept up to date thanks to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions. These conventions were created in 1958 and make sure all existing maritime laws are kept current. The conventions also make sure that new laws and arrangements are made when necessary.

Fraud against Immigrants by Notario Publicos

Immigration issues continue to generate front page headlines in our country. What is often missing from the sensational stories is the very human cost of our tangled and confusing immigration policy. The “walking on eggshells” nature of an immigrant’s every waking moment has led to some unsavory practices by those willing to take advantage of a tenuous situation.

One scam preying on people seeking immigration assistance that is growing is scope revolves around notary publics. People seeking immigration assistance should be wary of advisers who promise work permits, citizenship and release from immigration detention, yet who are not legally qualified to offer such assistance.

Hurt at sea? Maritime laws apply to your case

Maritime law refers to the laws that govern nautical matters and maritime businesses. Essentially, these are the laws of the ocean.

Maritime laws are kept up to date thanks to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) conventions. These conventions were created in 1958 and make sure all existing maritime laws are kept current. The conventions also make sure that new laws and arrangements are made when necessary.

Rhode Island: Specific state laws for divorce

You've been married for a few years, and from the beginning, you thought it might have been a bad decision. You found your spouse in over his head in debt, and you struggled to pay the bills while he decided not to work a full-time job. Your life has been nothing but difficult since your marriage began, and now you just want out.

Your story isn't unique, and many people have gone through the same thing. Rhode Island has specific divorce laws that may not be the same as other states. If you and your spouse are trying to determine where you want to get a divorce and Rhode Island is a possibility, you should know the state's specific laws before you decide.

Get the medical care you need to prevent bite wound infections

When an animal attacks you, the last thing you likely think about is infection. The first thing on your mind is stopping the bleeding and getting medical help; after all, the lacerations, broken bones and injuries are the most pressing concerns.

The reality of animal bites is that they do pose a threat to you in the form of infections. Infections are not always deadly, like tetanus or rabies can be, but they do have a potential to cause you serious harm. For instance, an untreated infection in the legs could lead to amputation, or it could spread and cause sepsis that threatens your life.

How to prevent a collision with another boat

With such a wide open sea, the thought of two boats colliding with one another seems unlikely. However, it does happen. In many cases, the collision is a result of one of the boat operators being under the influence of alcohol or simply not having enough experience to drive a boat. One incident that occurred a few months ago off Rhode Island, when two sailboats collided off the Newport Pell Bridge, illustrates this fact.

It is a lot easier than most people realize to run into another boat while at sea. Although the ocean has a lot of space, it is relatively easy to collide with a boat because there are no traffic lanes or stop signs on the ocean like you find on the road. Here are several ways you can drastically reduce the potential of experiencing a boating accident at sea. 

Woman accused of DUI after calling police for road rage

Drinking and driving is a hazard to yourself and others, which is part of the reason why it's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. Not all people who appear intoxicated are, though, so it's important for the appropriate tests to be taken to determine if your BAC is actually over the limit.

Take, for example, this case. The woman's BAC is not known, but she is accused of drunk driving. The woman in Portsmouth has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs after she called the police to report others who had road rage. According to the story from March 27, the woman was driving when callers stated that she was striking the curb and swerving in traffic. Despite that, she was actually the one who called the police claiming that there had been a road-rage incident. She allegedly had extreme signs that she was impaired at the time of the call and was not able to tell police where her vehicle was damaged.

What are the steps of adoption?

The decision to adopt isn't something you should take lightly. There are benefits and downsides to adoption, all of which require you to consider them carefully.

Adoptions help children find homes, but they're also a way for parents to grow their families. Adoptions have the benefit of helping children and couples who can't or don't want to have biological children become parents. Adoption often begins with fostering, so there is a short time during which families can get used to the new family member. It's during foster care that the majority of placements fail; after adoption, a child is a legal member of your household.

Potential new law would require skateboarders to wear helmets

Rhode Island and Connecticut both have helmet laws for cyclists, but when it comes to skateboarding, those laws aren't the same. One mother wants to change that. She spoke to lawmakers recently after claiming that her son's death in a skateboarding accident could have been prevented with a helmet.

She wants to see the passing of a law requiring skateboarders to wear helmets if they are under the age of 18. In Connecticut, that looks like it will happen. The state's laws already require helmets while riding bicycles if you're under the age of 16. Skateboarders weren't previously required to wear them at all.

Be safe while cycling

As the weather warms up, some people are preparing to get back out on their bikes. Creating a safe environment for all commuters requires a certain level of vigilance.

Unfortunately, some drivers may be negligent and can cause auto accidents, which can be traumatic for cyclists. To avoid this, there are a few things cyclists should keep in mind.

Tips for staying safe while boating this season

Everyone who lives by the ocean enjoys spending time there, whether it's on or near the water. Many people in Newport have boats or know people who do, so they spend time boating throughout the season. As the days get warmer, you may be planning to hit the waves, too.

If you do, it's a good idea to understand recreational boating safety and how to avoid injuries. It's typically the boat-owner's responsibility to keep passengers safe. If you get hurt as a result of poor maintenance or a boat crash caused by the driver's negligence, you may be able to file a claim and obtain compensation.

Man crashes into sea, faces DUI allegations

When you decide to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and are tired, distracted or intoxicated, you probably already know it's a bad idea. You may think you're feeling well enough to get home safely, but what if you aren't? If you aren't, you put yourself at risk of being arrested or causing a crash.

When that happens, you face serious penalties alongside potential civil claims. Take for example this case from Feb. 24.

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