August 19, 2019

Archives for September 17, 2015

The Culture of Law (Part 6): Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat

rhodesFirst, a quick review of where we were in this series before we took our annual Running Past Our Limits vacation:

Culture derives from a neurological structure created in the brains of the culture’s individual members at impressionable times. Individual brain wiring is transmitted by agreement from member to member, and reinforced by experience. Culture thus neurologically shaped is maintained by the brain’s need for concordance between expectations and experience. The result is a shared cultural belief system that characterizes how the members engage with the world.

This week looks further into the term “belief system.” I Googled it, and the following was one of the more instructive, albeit denser hits:

Belief systems are structures of norms that are interrelated and that vary mainly in the degree in which they are systemic. What is systemic in the Belief System is the interrelation between several beliefs. What features warrant calling this stored body of concepts a belief system? Belief systems are the stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of Reality. Every human being has a belief system that they utilize, and it is through this mechanism that we individually “make sense” of the world around us.

A culture’s members adopt its belief system not merely as their “personal sense of Reality,” but as a shared belief in how things really are. I.e., the culture’s members don’t just believe similar things about how the world works, they also believe in their beliefs, holding them as their common perceptual and behavioral code.

What happens when a culture’s belief system is threatened, either from within or by outside pressure?

We met Bruce E. Wexler, professor of psychiatry at Yale Medical School, and his book, Brain and Culture: Neurobiology, Ideology, and Social Change a couple posts back. He’s the guy who talked about

[t]he importance of a close fit between internal neuropsychological structures created to conform with an individual’s sensory and interpersonal environment at the time of development, and the environment in which the adult individual later finds him or herself.

Wexler uses his brain-based cultural approach to explain intercultural conflict this way:

This book argues that differences in belief systems can themselves occasion intercultural violence, since concordance between internal structure and external reality is a fundamental human neurobiological imperative.

I.e., a culture resists change because its shared brain wiring is guarding its neurological peace of mind.

Wexler’s analysis also applies to intracultural conflict. And, as he further points out, ultimately the battle over culture is about whose brain wiring gets to make the rules.

This argument thus provides a rational basis for the apparent fact that people fight not because of differences in religion and other beliefs; they fight to control the opportunity to create external structures that fit with their internal structures, and to prevent others from filling their environment with structures and stimulation that conflict with their internal structures.

All of which explains why “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” — i.e., resistance to cultural change — is always an implied cultural norm. Challenges to a culture’s belief system are always perceived as a case of,

The devil will drag you under by the sharp lapels of your checkered coat,
So sit down, sit down, sit down you’re rockin’ the boat!

We’ll be talking more about rocking the cultural boat. In the meantime, take a couple minutes to give yourself a treat and watch the video. It’s short, from “Guys and Dolls.”

This year’s fourth annual Running Past Our Limits series is an abbreviated version of a longer series I posted on my personal blog earlier this year. You can go there to get the whole thing if you like!

Comment Period Open for Proposed Changes to Colorado Rules of Probate Procedure

The Colorado State Judicial Branch announced the proposed repeal and reenactment of the Colorado Rules of Probate Procedure. The proposed changes involve reordering and renumbering of the rules, with several reserved spots for future rules.

A redline of the proposed changes is available here. Comments regarding the changes may be emailed to the clerk of the Colorado Supreme Court, Christopher Ryan, at, or they may be mailed or delivered to the courthouse at 2 E. 14th Ave., Denver, CO 80203. The comment period will end at 5 p.m. on December 1, 2015. Written comments will be posted on the State Judicial website after the comment period closes.

For more information, visit the Adopted & Proposed Rule Changes page of the Colorado Supreme Court website.

Honorable Angela Arkin and Honorable Gerald Rafferty to Retire from Eighteenth Judicial District Court

On Tuesday, September 15, 2015, the Colorado State Judicial Branch announced that Hon. Angela Arkin will retire from the Eighteenth Judicial District Court, effective January 1, 2016, and Hon. Gerald Rafferty will retire from the same court, effective Jan. 23, 2016. The application period is now open for both vacancies.

Hon. Angela Arkin was appointed to the Eighteenth Judicial District Court in 2002, where she oversees a domestic relations docket. Prior to her appointment, she was a district court magistrate in Arapahoe County with a domestic relations and juvenile docket. She is a frequent lecturer and author for CLE in Colorado, speaking on topics related to family law, DNA evidence, and jurisdiction, and she writes for the Practitioner’s Guide to Colorado Domestic Relations Law. She received her law degree from Emory Law School and is licensed in Colorado, Georgia, and the District of Columbia.

Hon. Gerald Rafferty was appointed to the Eighteenth Judicial District Court in 1999. Prior to his appointment, he was a Deputy District Attorney in the Denver DA’s office from 1995-1999 and was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1989-1995 and 1978-1988. He was Of Counsel at a law firm from 1988-1989. Judge Rafferty served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force from 1967-1972 and was an FBI special agent from 1973-1977. He earned his law degree, with honors, from John Marshall Law School in 1978.

Applications are now being accepted for the judicial vacancies. Application forms are available on the State Judicial website and also from the ex officio chair of the Eighteenth Judicial District Nominating Commission, Justice Allison Eid. Applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on October 14, 2015, and anyone wishing to nominate another must do so no later than 4 p.m. on October 7, 2015.

For more information about the vacancies and application process, click here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Announcement Sheet, 9/17/2015

On Thursday, September 17, 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and 39 unpublished opinions.

Neither State Judicial nor the Colorado Bar Association provides case summaries for unpublished appellate opinions. The case announcement sheet is available here.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 9/16/2015

On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and three unpublished opinions.

United States v. Spring

United States v. Lester

United States v. Al-Haj

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.