June 2013

Rhode Island Golf for Lawyers

Rhode Islandf Golfing Attorney

Some practice yoga, some relax by the water, and some enjoy the scenery and views from one of the many fantastic bars and restaurants here in Newport, Rhode Island. When I find a little free time (it is rare that I do) I prefer to spend my time at one of the many gorgeous golf courses that our ocean state has to offer. An early morning or mid afternoon round can be just what the Doctor ordered to relieve stress after the never ending story that is the private practice of law. The early morning dew on the greens and a nice brisk breeze provides all the clarity one needs to help let go of the work week. Additionally, golfing helps reduce stress and provides hours of low intensity exertion that releases endorphins into the body and stimulates blood flow. So for this Kevin Hagan Law blog entry I decided to try something different and provide some information about the courses that I enjoy in Rhode Island, and some of the benefits of the game that has been “de-stressing” folks since the 15th century.

So first, why golf?

1) Elevates mood, self confidence, and reduces risks of depression

2) Golf also reduces stress and cholesterol, two things that everyone needs to reduce. A single game of golf can burn up to a thousand calories, which is a great way to stay in shape and burn off excess fat. A game of golf gets the blood flowing and increases your heart rate, making golf a wonderful cardio-vascular exercise. Playing golf once a week means that you’re walking between four and eight miles regularly once a week, which is great for the heart and lungs. Any activity that leaves you slightly short of breath and works up a bit of a sweat is great for your cardiovascular system, or heart. In addition to lowering harmful cholesterol, it also helps speed up your metabolism, making weight loss easier. A round of golf burns about 300 calories in a 150 pound individual who plays for 1 hour while carrying clubs. If you choose to ride in a cart, the same round of golf will burn only 230 calories. The driving range burns about 200 calories per hour.

3) Playing golf improves heart and lungs efficiency and increases circulation.

4) It helps you sleep better: Study after study has shown that regular exercise increases the positives that sleep brings. You’ll fall asleep faster and remain in a deep sleep for a longer period of time with regular exercise, which includes activities like golf. Sleep is important because it allows time for your muscles to repair themselves. Playing a round of golf by day will likely increase the quality of your restfulness by night.

5) Strengthens bones and maximizes bone density

6) Reduces stiffness in muscles and joints

7) Improves flexibility and posture

8) Improves mental capacity and concentration

9) In addition to the many health benefits of golf, the course itself may actually be the place where some work itself is done. So we need to ask....Why do so many people like to do business on the golf course? It seems that especially for men, when they are in the act of accomplishment, they feel good about themselves and want to do business. This could relate to some sort of tribal, hunting instinct. I also think golf is a great way to discover a person’s true character. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they react to little mistakes they make, how they react when they get frustrated or angry, and how they think based on their self-talk. You can also discern someone’s honesty - if they will cheat or lie about their golf score, you can bet that dishonesty is possibly in their nature.

And now to the important stuff, a quick list of my favorite courses to unwind, de-stress and maintain the competitive edge that drives (pun intended) a sole practitioners law practice.

1) Kirkbrae Country Club: Kirkbrae Country Club is a private, member owned country club located in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Kirkbrae is considered one of New England’s finest country clubs. In 2000, Kirkbrae completed a 47,000 square foot, multi-million dollar construction of its clubhouse, creating some of the most panoramic and breathtaking views of the Northern Rhode Island landscape. Established in 1962, Kirkbrae features an 18-hole Championship golf course, an Olympic size swimming pool, a fully equipped health facility, a 500-seat banquet facility and a 255 seat member dining area. The Club is open year round and operates seven days per week.

In 2000, the membership of Kirkbrae constructed a brand new 47,000 square foot clubhouse, making Kirkbrae one of the largest private clubs in Rhode Island. The membership is very proud of the facility and the amenities, especially the quality of service and food & beverage operations.

Today, some forty years after it first opened, Kirkbrae has emerged as one of the finest country clubs in New England, and has become a premier choice for weddings, banquets, and corporate events. Serving all of southeastern New England, Kirkbrae Country Club offers the perfect atmosphere with fabulous and unparalleled service.

2) Newport National: The Orchard Course, which opened in June 2002 to rave national and regional reviews. Designed by legendary golf architect Arthur Hills and his associate Drew Rogers, the course is located in Middletown, Rhode Island on almost 200 acres of former shrub and tree nurseries and offers sweeping views of The Sakonnet Passage, Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay. The Orchard Course, which measures 7,244 yards from the championship tees, has been nominated for “Best New Private Course” in Golf Digest’s Annual (2003) Survey of America’s Best New Courses. In 2004, it was named the #1 course in Rhode Island with public access by GolfWeek. The Orchard Course features greens, tees and fairways consisting of 100% seaside bent grass, and grand, swaying fescue often exceeding 4’ in length. The fairways and greens were designed to play fast and firm; the greens are undulating and well-bunkered, and pitch-and-run shots will often be required to save par after a missed green. Reminiscent of some of Irelands finest golf links, The Orchard Course will play a little differently everyday depending on the famous Aquidneck Island winds.

3) Sakonnet Country Club: The 18-hole "Sakonnet" course at the Sakonnet Golf Club facility in Little Compton, Rhode Island features 5,902 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 69 . The course rating is 69.7 and it has a slope rating of 122 on Bent grass. Designed by Donald J. Ross, ASGCA, the Sakonnet golf course opened in 1899. Cynde Flanagan manages the course as the General Manager.

4) Newport Country Club: The 18-hole "Newport" course at the Newport
Country Club facility in Newport, Rhode Island features 6,735 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 70 . The course rating is 72.7 and it has a slope rating of 129 on Rye grass. Designed by William F. Davis/(R) A.W. Tillinghast, the Newport golf course opened in 1893. Jack Kane manages the course as the General Manager

5) Montaup Country Club: The 18-hole "Montaup" course at the Montaup Country Club facility in Portsmouth, Rhode Island features 6,236 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71 . The course rating is 71.4 and it has a slope rating of 123. Montaup golf course opened in 1923.

In closing, Golf and the law have gone hand and hand for a long time. Making friends and developing business leads, all while chasing a little white ball, just makes for the ideal venture. Although it would just be an estimate I have probably identified about 10-20% of my income that has been derived directly from people I have met playing golf. Simply put, Golf generates camaraderie and a sense of friendship that incidentally improves the bottom line. It’s not easy, but make the time to play and the rewards will be great. FORE!

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Background Checks for School Volunteers

Criminal Defense Update: Rhode Island now requires Background Checks for those who will volunteer at School Systems

The governor has signed legislation, to require any individuals who are current or prospective volunteers of a school department and who may have direct or unmonitored contact with children or students on school premises to undergo a state criminal background check. The Senate and House of Representatives gave final passage last week to companion bills – 2013-S 0347 by Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and 2013-H 5229 by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston). The bills will take immediate effect.

The Parts of the Bill that could affect new volunteers, by disqualifying them:

16-2-18.1. Criminal records review. -- (a) Any person seeking employment with a private school or public school department who has not previously been employed by a private school or public school department in Rhode Island during the past twelve (12) months shall undergo a national and state criminal background check to be initiated prior to or within one week of
employment after receiving a conditional offer of employment; The applicant shall apply to the bureau of criminal identification (BCI), department of attorney general, state police or local police department where they reside, for a national and state criminal records check. Fingerprinting shall be required. Upon the discovery of any disqualifying information, the bureau of criminal identification, state police or local police department will inform the applicant in writing of the nature of the disqualifying information; and, without disclosing the nature of the disqualifying information will notify the employer in writing that disqualifying information has been discovered.

(c) An employee against whom disqualifying information has been found may request
that a copy of the criminal background report be sent to the employer who shall make a judgment
regarding the employment of the employee.

The disqualifying information referenced above includes means those offenses listed
in section 23-17-37, and those offenses listed in sections 11-37-8.1 and 11-37-8.3.

These offenses are:
§ 23-17-37 Disqualifying information. – (a) Information produced by a criminal records review pertaining to conviction, for the following crimes will result in a letter to the employee and employer disqualifying the applicant from employment: murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, first degree sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, third degree sexual assault, assault on persons sixty (60) years of age or older, assault with intent to commit specified felonies (murder, robbery, rape, burglary, or the abominable and detestable crime against nature) felony assault, patient abuse, neglect or mistreatment of patients, burglary, first degree arson, robbery, felony drug offenses, larceny, or felony banking law violations. An employee against whom disqualifying information has been found may request that a copy of the criminal background report be sent to the employer who shall make a judgment regarding the continued employment of the employee.

(b) For purposes of this section, "conviction" means, in addition to judgments of conviction entered by a court subsequent to a finding of guilty or a plea of guilty, those instances where the defendant has entered a plea of nolo contendere and has received a sentence of probation and those instances where a defendant has entered into a deferred sentence agreement with the attorney general.

With specific references to sections:
§ 11-37-8.1 First degree child molestation sexual assault. – A person is guilty of first degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a person fourteen (14) years of age or under.

§ 11-37-8.3 Second degree child molestation sexual assault. – A person is guilty of a second degree child molestation sexual assault if he or she engages in sexual contact with another person fourteen (14) years of age or under.

Rhode Island is not the first state to implement a law such as this:

In New Mexico, under a policy adopted last year, parents who want to mentor in the schools must produce character references and go through a criminal background check, fingerprinting and training.

In North Carolina, parents or other volunteers who accompany field trips, tutor or serve as reading buddies or assistant athletic coaches, and may be alone with a child, must go through a personal interview, a training session and a criminal background check. They must also provide three personal references. Those who mentor children or chaperon overnight trips must be fingerprinted, and those who drive children around must have their driving history, insurance and license checked.

This legislation is aimed at improving the safety of school children, said the sponsors, by expanding the scope of the background check requirement to include volunteers who will have direct and regular contact with young people.

“As programs that rely on or use volunteers grow in school settings, adding this language to law is the safe and responsible thing to do. We don’t want to stand in the way of volunteerism in schools, but we want to put student safety first,” said Representative McNamara.

As a criminal defense lawyer we need to be cognizant of the repercussions of this law on volunteers who may have criminal records from many years prior. Although the Senate is doing a fantastic job in keeping our children safe, many members of our society will now have to explain away their past in order to be a contributing member in their town’s school. All Rhode Island residents should be aware of this new law and the implications it could have when accepting negotiated plea deals with Attorney General’s office, the same way clients encountering immigration issues need to keep their eyes open.